Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello managed something even Rory McIlroy was unable to do as he surged into contention for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship on Friday.
McIlroy birdied four of the first five holes on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates on his way to an opening 66 which gave him a share of the lead with Shane Lowry on six under par.
The world number one’s only aberration in that brilliant return to action after a six-week lay-off was missing from six feet for birdie on the third, but Cabrera-Bello showed him how it was done on Friday.
The 30-year-old had managed just two birdies in his opening 73 to lie seven shots off the pace, but picked up shots at each of the first five holes of his second round to improve to four under par.
That took him to within two of the lead and into a share of fifth place, with McIlroy and Lowry still more than two hours away from beginning their rounds.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell was also moving in the right direction in ideal conditions, the Ryder Cup star collecting birdies at the first and second to move to two under.
McDowell's progress was halted by a bogey on the par-three sixth, but Cabrera-Bello followed pars at the sixth and seventh with a birdie on the eighth to reach the turn in just 30 shots.
At five under par the world number 104 was within one of the lead and also in contention to break the course record of 62 set by Justin Rose in the final round in 2012, when only McIlroy’s five closing birdies denied the Englishman victory.
A seventh birdie of the day on the 10th took Cabrera-Bello into a share of the lead, only to be swiftly followed by bogeys on the 11th and 12th.
However, the former Dubai Desert Classic winner bounced back in brilliant style with an eagle on the par-five 14th to again join McIlroy and Lowry in the lead on six under.
Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn was just a shot behind after carding birdies on the first, third, seventh and eighth, with Justin Rose on four under after picking up three shots in the first seven holes.