Englishman Justin Rose holds a share of the lead with Aaron Pike in the MasterCard Australian Masters at Huntingdale after a second-round 66, with the entire field either finished or out on the course on Friday afternoon.
Out early in fine, warm but relatively still conditions, Rose carded eight birdies to move to nine-under.
Late on the opening day at six-under after 14 holes, Rose was within striking distance of first Pike’s course record-equalling 64 before inexplicably dropping a shot at each of his closing three holes.
There was to be no repeat on Friday and the 26 year-old was especially delighted to close with a birdie at his final hole, the 378-metre par four ninth.
“I played the par-threes really, really well today,” Rose said.
“I made three twos, and hit iron shots close on all of those birdie so anytime you make three twos it tidies up your score pretty quick.”
“I thought I got off to a good start yesterday afternoon, I thought it was tough conditions yesterday and I was very happy with 69 and obviously to back that up with today in slightly easier conditions with a 66 is exciting.”
Rose and Pike, who had picked up one shot through four holes early in his afternoon round, lead New South Welshman Kurt Barnes (70-66) by one stroke, with a two-shot gap to leftie Greg Chalmers (70-67) who came home in 30 after starting on the 10th, defending champion Robert Allenby and the unheralded Peter Wilson.
Allenby has been the big mover of those going out in the afternoon, picking up four shots in his first 10 holes, while Wilson is even-par through four.
Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin is also even in his second round following an opening 66, and is joined on six-under by 1997 and 2002 champion Peter Lonard (two-under through 10) and Steven Bowditch.
Simon Khan is revelling in the mild conditions at Huntingdale, the Englishman making two birdies and an eagle on the 10th to be in a group of four players at five-under.
Khan’s countryman Simon Butterfield has also made a fast start, moving to four-under overall heading to the eighth after carding a first-round 70.
However, it hasn’t been a great day for Nick Dougherty who is failing to consolidate his brilliant 65 on Thursday, dropping three shots on the front-nine to fall to three-under, while world No.15 Paul Casey is even on his round after a mediocre opening 71.
New Zealander Michael Campbell looks unlikely to make the projected cut of plus one after rounds of 74-73, while pre-tournament favourite Stuart Appleby (75 on Thursday) is four-under after 10 holes in his second round.