Julien Guerrier (Fr) will take a two-shot lead into the weekend after following up his opening 67 with a brilliant 68 on day two of the €1.75 million Cazoo Open supported by Gareth Bale on the DP World Tour.
The leader made five birdies and two bogeys on Friday morning as well as producing some spectacular par saves as the Twenty Ten Course at The Celtic Manor Resort provided a stern test once again.
None of the afternoon starters were able to match Guerrier’s 36 hole total of seven under par at the 2010 Ryder Cup venue, with Callum Shinkwin and American Johannes Veerman his nearest challengers on five under.
Englishman Shinkwin mixed seven birdies with four bogeys in an impressive second round 68, while Veerman holed his approach shot at the 18th for a closing eagle to secure a 68 of his own.
Jack Senior, Espen Kofstad, Marcus Armitage and Thomas Detry were another shot back on four under.
Guerrier began the day with a share of the lead and kept an early bogey off his card courtesy of a 15 foot par save at the first hole.
He holed another lengthy putt - this time for a birdie - after sending his tee-shot at the short third to 25 feet.
The 37 year-old made a bogey at the sixth but got the shot back with a ten-foot birdie on the ninth green.
A close-range birdie followed at the 11th before Guerrier got up and down from a bunker for another gain on the 15th.
An eventful finish saw Guerrier bogey the 16th, rescue an unlikely par at the 17th after getting out of position and birdie the last to head into the clubhouse on seven under.
Guerrier is hunting his first DP World Tour victory, having gone close at the Cazoo Classic at Hillside Golf Club last month.
Veerman had a day to remember on Friday, sinking an enormous putt on the first hole for a birdie before judging his tricky third shot to perfection at the ninth and rolling in the birdie putt.
But he saved his best until last, holing out for an eagle on the 18th from the fairway. His approach shot took one bounce on the green before jumping into the cup.
Dubai resident and Ambassador for Aviv Clinics Dubai, Nico Colsaerts (Bel) shot a much improved five birdie round of 74, to go along with his first round of 78, but he missed the cut mark of four over par, as he makes his way back on the DP World Tour from his kidney illness.
David Howell (Eng), winner of the 1999 Dubai Desert Classic held at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, making his 700th DP World Tour appearance this week, comfortably made the cut on two over after shooting a level-par 71.
The third round takes place today (Saturday) with the leaders out last at 10.11 am local Wales time. Dubai Sports TV will be showing LIVE TV coverage of the Cazoo Open on the DP World Tour at 1.30 pm today (Saturday), UAE time.
C. Shinkwin (Eng) 69. 68. 137.
J. Veerman (US) 69. 68. 137.
T. Detry (Bel) 72. 66. 138.
E. Kofstad (Nor) 70. 68. 138.
M. Armitage (Eng) 68. 70. 138.
J. Senior (Eng) 71. 67. 138.