Scott Jamieson maintained his one-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, where Ryder Cup stars Viktor Hovland, Ian Poulter, Shane Lowry and Thomas Pieters were among the many players in close pursuit after a blustery second round of the DP World Tour season's opening Rolex Series event.
The strong winds played havoc at Yas Links but Jamieson remained steady and composed as he battled to a two over par 74 to enter the weekend on a seven under leading total.
On a day which yielded only nine sub-par rounds, Poulter's level 72 was all the more impressive and the Englishman sat in a share of second place on six under, alongside his recent Ryder Cup team-mate Hovland who signed for a 74.
James Morrison, meanwhile, was level par through 14 holes and on a six under total before play was suspended overnight due to darkness. Former Open Champion Lowry was joined by Pieters, Japan's Takumi Kanaya and Swede Alexander Björk on five under par, two shots off the lead.
Defending Champion Tyrrell Hatton's five over 77 left him six shots back on a one under total, while four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy had to hole a nerve-jangling birdie putt on the final hole to leave himself in a good position to make the weekend. He sits right on the cut line on three over, with round two to be completed on Saturday morning.
In windy conditions, many of the field struggled with Emirati amateur Ahmad Skaik finishing 15-over-par for his two rounds. Countryman Ahmed Al-Musharrekh and UAE-born Josh Hill also found conditions tough, with both unlikely to make the cut before the klaxon was sounded.
After his round, Jamieson said: "It certainly wasn't easy. You know, we knew the forecast but when you're in your hotel room in the morning and the locker room, clear day, and before you play it's a little easier, but then you experience it and get out there.”
Reflecting on the tough conditions, Hovland said:
“It was a tough day today. Obviously would have liked to have made a couple more putts today and I think I could have shot under par today but it was a really difficult when it blowing as much as it is.
I think with a lot of the pins when, for example, they put it back of the green, you have a lot of room short, for example, and obviously you want to try to get it close and give yourself a birdie look but there's so many nuances. A really grinding day. But you just have to deal with it and put your ball in good spots and stay patient. I'm liking my position right now and we'll see what happens.”