The former world number one golfer Tiger Woods had the round of the day at the Dubai Desert Classic overnight but it was Ulster's Golden Boy Rory McIlroy who held on to the lead at the halfway stage of the Gulf's showcase tournament.
Woods produced his best golf of the year for a six under 66 to bound into contention for a first title in 15 months.
He will go into the weekend on seven under par in a tie for fifth, four strokes shy of McIlroy who added a 68 to his opening blast of 65 to stand at 11 under.
In second place a stroke off the lead is back-to-form Sergio Garcia who came in with a second straight 67.
He is level with South Africa's Thomas Aiken, who has had identical scores to the Spaniard.
Playing alongside the two men ahead of him in the rankings, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, the world number three Woods looked comfortable and relaxed as he took advantage of perfect morning playing conditions to roll in six birdies, all from within fairly comfortable putting range.
Westwood had a 70 and was two back from Woods on five under.
Kaymer had a 71 and is at four under.
McIlroy, whose 65 was the talking point of Friday's opening round, bogeyed the second hole to let slip the lead.
But birdies at the seventh and the ninth took the 21-year-old from Hollywood near Belfast to the turn in 34 and he rejoined Aiken atop the leaderboard with another pair of birdies at the 12th and 15th.
The winner in Dubai two years ago then took the sole lead by sinking a 12 foot putt at the par-five last for a round of 68.