Nicolai Hojgaard has stormed home to claim a two-shot lead at the halfway stage of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Hojgaard was two over par after four holes of his second round at Jumeirah Golf Estates on Friday, but birdied the fifth and seventh and then covered the back nine in just 30 shots to card a superb 66.
The 22-year-old Dane rounded off his day in style with an eagle from six feet on the par-five 18th to reach 11 under par, with Ryder Cup teammates Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland part of a five-way tie for second on nine under.
Australia's two competitors in the European tour finale, Min Woo Lee and Lucas Herbert, were left in the midfield pack in the 50-man event, both reaching halfway on three under, eight shots behind.
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) November 17, 2023
Hojgaard, who finished second in the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa on Sunday, said: "It's a little like last week, I had a slow start in every round and then I know with every round there's going to be a run of birdies at some point with where my game is so it's about staying patient.
"It would be pretty cool to win. I feel like that's the only thing I've missed this season but there's two rounds to go and a lot of really good players in this field so I'm going to keep grinding as much as I can."
Fleetwood and Hovland both matched Hojgaard's 66, while Antoine Rozner, Thriston Lawrence and Jens Dantorp also share second place following rounds of 67, 64 and 67 respectively.
Defending champion Jon Rahm, who failed to break par for the first time in 17 rounds in the event on Thursday, bounced back with a 66 which included an eagle on the 18th but was marred by a three-putt bogey on the ninth, his final hole of the day.
World No.2 Rory McIlroy could only add a 72 to his opening 71 to lie 10 shots off the pace.
"I got off to a decent start again, a couple under through nine and then just (hit) some loose shots coming in," McIlroy said. "I was trying to make some birdies on the back nine and get something going and I couldn't. I was just stuck in neutral all day."
Min Woo Lee's challenge failed to materialise after a bright start when he briefly moved to within two of the lead on five under after four straight birdies from the seventh hole.
He came home rather less convincingly, with three bogeys, and ended with a two-under 70 which left him in joint-25th place.
Lee is on the same halfway score as Herbert, who went round in 69, after 18 holes that featured four birdies and one bogey.