Justin Rose (Getty Images)
Justin Rose holds a one shot lead over Jamie Donaldson, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Thorbjørn Olesen at the halfway stage of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
While World Numbers One and Two Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods missed the cut, England's Rose continued to enjoy himself in the desert sun.
The 32 year old, currently fifth in the Official World Golf Ranking, added a 69 to his opening 67 to reach eight under par.
"I felt like my game definitely sharpened up," Rose said. "When you have perfect distance control you know you are swinging it well.
"I thought it was a decent enough score to keep the momentum going. I was pin-high probably eight times, but kept leaving myself awkward distances and had to keep patient."
A six foot putt at the 475 yard 16th produced his only deviation from par on the back nine and he then converted 15 foot chances on the second and fourth, but in between dropped his only shot after missing the green.
The finish was spectacular, however. An eight-iron approach pulled up and only a foot from the flag and he said: "I can make those!"
Rose had only Open Champion Ernie Els as his playing partner, defending champion Robert Rock pulling out through illness after a 76.
Els double-bogeyed the third and dropped two other shots, but also had three birdies for a 73 and level par aggregate.
Donaldson, joint-leader with Rose overnight after an opening 67, birdied his first two holes but could only mix three bogeys with three further gains from then on.
“I probably played better today in places than yesterday,” said the 37 year old.
“A solid day - it was tough out there but saying that, the wind wasn't as windy as yesterday, which made scoring slightly easier. I'm in a good position and I'm happy.
“Even calm, it's still difficult; you miss fairways, you're in trouble. I hit a lot of fairways today, gave myself a lot of chances, and I’m happy with the score.”
The 22 year old Olesen, who won his maiden European Tour title in Sicily last year, was the only player in the top ten not to drop a shot all day.
“It was really nice, especially with the round yesterday the way I finished with a bogey, so it's nice to get a bogey-free round today,” he said.
“I didn't play well on the back nine, but I got some good pars and that's important. I played well the front nine, and it was nice.”
Fernandez-Castaño highlighted the fact he played in last week’s Volvo Golf Champions as the reason for his good display.
“I guess just having played the week before at the Volvo Golf Champions, I think that helps a lot,” said the six-time European Tour winner. “It's not the same playing a tough course like this the first week of the year; you warm up last week pretty much and now you are ready to go.”