Martin Kaymer has given himself the chance to regain the European Tour number one spot in his first event back from breaking toes in a go-kart crash.
Out since mid-August and not able to start practising fully until the last few days, the 24-year-old shares the clubhouse lead with Australian Robert Allenby after the second day of the Castello Masters in Spain.
“Maybe he’s the bionic man,” Allenby said of the German, who will have titanium plates and screws in his foot for another nine months.
Top of the money list when the accident happened, Kaymer is now down to third, but the first prize on Sunday would instantly take him back above Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy.
He did admit, however, that he was feeling it after having to play 24 holes following Thursday’s three-hour stoppage for strong winds.
First the French and Scottish Open champion completed an opening eight-under-par 63 – “I was never expecting to be under 70 to be honest,” he stated – and shared top spot with defending champion Sergio Garcia.
Then he went out again and added a 67 for a 12-under-par total matched by Allenby with a 66.
Garcia, playing on his home course, was among those unable to finish as the tournament tried to make up for lost time and will resume in the morning on 11 under with three to play.
Double Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal and Indian Shiv Kapur are two behind.
Speaking about his injury after his round, Kaymer said: “It does not affect my swing, but I was in a lot of pain the last few holes.
“But my expectations were not high, so it worked out pretty well.
“I’ll put some ice on it now and take it easy. The doctor told me to avoid long walks and that I won’t be 100% for a year.”
Allenby, a four-time winner in Europe before moving to the United States over a decade ago, rejoined this season for the new “Race to Dubai” and is already 33rd on the money list from just 10 starts.
He birdied his last two holes to move alongside Kaymer.
Also going well is England’s John E Morgan in his first event since he broke a toe stubbing it on the end of his bed just over a month ago.
The 31-year-old, down in 195th place on the Order of Merit and needing a top-two finish to save his Tour card, is four behind at halfway.
On the same mark are former Ryder Cup player Andrew Coltart and England’s Benn Barham and Miles Tunnicliff, all three of them are also looking to move into the top 115.
Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie is five under with four holes remaining and Darren Clarke one further back, but Chris Wood, third in the Open in July, withdrew after an opening 70 with a twisted ankle suffered falling down the clubhouse steps and Welshman Stephen Dodd also retired at three over with four to play.
The cut looks like falling tomorrow morning at either one or two under.
12 under - Robert Allenby (Aus) (after 36 holes)
Martin Kaymer (Ger) (36)
11 under – Sergio Garcia (Spa) (33)
10 under – Shiv Kapur (Ind) (36)
Jose-Maria Olazabal (Spa) (32)
9 under – Sam Hutsby (36)
Emanuele Canonica (Ita) (32)
8 under – Benn Barham (36)
Paul Broadhurst (36)
Andrew Coltart (36)
Peter Hanson (Swe) (36)
John E Morgan (36)
Miles Tunnicliff (36)
7 under – Ignacio Garrido (Spa) (36)
Christian Nilsson (Swe) (36)
Anthony Wall (36)
Michael Jonzon (Swe) (33)
Daniel Vancsik (Arg) (30)
6 under – Scott Drummond (36)
Colin Montgomerie (32)