Ian Poulter dug deep and edged up to tied second place at the halfway mark of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as scoring ballooned on a day of high winds at Yas Links.
Poulter grafted to an even-par 72 on Friday to post 6-under 138.
And on a day when the scoring average was a fraction under 76 and just five players broke par, that put the Englishman right in contention.
First-round leader Scott Jamieson remains on top despite following his opening 63 with a 74 to fall back to 7-under.
World No.7 Viktor Hovland also posted a 74 from his early tee-time and that kept him in second spot alongside Poulter and another Englishman, James Morrison.
Morrison still has four holes to complete so could reel Jamieson in if, as expected, winds are lighter on the weekend.
Former Open champion Shane Lowry shares fifth spot on 5-under alongside Belgian Thomas Pieters, Japan's Takumi Kanaya and Swede Alexander Björk.
Defending champion Tyrrell Hatton was one of those who found the going particularly tough.
He slipped back to tied 23rd after shooting 11 shots higher in round two: 77 compared to Thursday's 66.
Rory McIlroy looked set to miss the cut after slipping to 4-over but managed to get up and down for a birdie at the par-5 18th to finish on 147.
That's currently right on the +3 cut line and should be enough to get him through although he could still miss out when round two is completed on Saturday morning.
The same applies to pre-tournament favourite Collin Morikawa. The American also posted 3-over after a 2-over 74.
Scott Jamieson ranks 2nd for Strokes Gained: Putting so far (4.407) with round two still to finish.
Rory McIlroy is 130th out of 132 for SG: Putting. He lost 2.179 strokes to the field in round one and is -2.034 in round two.
Ian Poulter is 1st for SG: Tee To Green (7.228), with Shane Lowry 2nd (6.897).
If it holds, this would be Jamieson's seventh 36-hole lead on the European Tour. He's converted just one (2012 Nelson Mandela Championship).
Scott Jamieson (+2, 137)
"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.
"Obviously hitting shots is tricky with all the gusts but the hardest thing is putting. You get over the ball and you feel like you've got to be so tense to stop everything moving but that's the worst thing you can do when you're trying to putt. I holed a lot of really good putts from inside five feet today which kept my score respectable."
Viktor Hovland (+2, 138)
"It was a tough day today. Obviously would have liked to have made a couple more putts and I think I could have shot under par today but it was really difficult when it was blowing as much as it is.
"I'm in a good spot but there's still plenty of guys throughout and a lot of Brits and Scottish men that play in this weather all the time. But I'm liking my position right now and we'll see what happens."
Ian Poulter (+2, 138)
"I've got to be honest, you look at the forecast and you felt the wind as strong as it was, you'd have thought the ball would be moving but didn't have any balls moving on the green.
"You had to back off because you were getting blown around but the ball wasn't really moving, so a surprise, and just had to hang in there. Birdied the first two holes and I've had two three-putt bogeys.
"A poor shot with the wrong wind gets really punished. I really only hit one or two of those but I didn't really get punished."
Shane Lowry (Evs, 139)
"I played okay. I feel like I didn't really have my A game in the wind today that I normally would. I hit some loose shots that generally would be better but it was just so tough out there, every part of it. Putting was probably the hardest thing, but I'm absolutely thrilled with 72 to be honest.
"First tournament of the year, I was happy with five under yesterday and I'm happy with level par today.
"I don't love it (the wind). I'd prefer it was calm but I know how to play in those conditions. I knew going out this morning that it would be up. I knew to go out and just play my game and do my thing."
Let it blow!
Bjork sinks one from downtown!
Hatton isn't happy!
Poulter goes for it!
Hojgaard close to a hole-in-one