World number one Rory McIlroy's peerless power and precision has put him in pole position at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
The Northern Irishman produced a superb bogey-free eight-under-par 64 to take a one-shot lead over Scotland's Marc Warren at 14-under.
McIlroy underlined his class by closing with three successive birdies but even so, he would have come off the course with the feeling he could have gone even lower on a track where he recorded his maiden professional victory in 2009.
That shows how far the 24-year-old's expectations have risen in the six years since he lifted the title at the Emirates Golf Club, during which time he has won four majors with two of those coming in the last six months.
"It was good. I hit a couple of loose shots early on but found my rhythm and after that I played pretty well and converted most of my chances," he told European Tour Radio.
"You can't ask for much more: bogey-free, eight birdies. I've set myself up nicely for a good run at it in the next couple of days.
"I saw a stat yesterday that since the first round of The Open, I've played 45 rounds and a third of them were 66 or better, which just shows you the level that I am at.
"I've put the work in and I've worked hard; I continue to work hard and this is the result, which is nice.
"I am very comfortable and a lot of the parts of my game are in good shape but the conditions out there are absolutely perfect so I would expect the scoring to stay low for the weekend and I am going to have to carry on playing like this.
"It is the best place to be, one shot ahead, but you just got to go out and be aggressive and try to make as many birdies as you can.
"It is the best place to be, one shot ahead, but you just got to go out and be aggressive and try to make as many birdies as you can."
"I'm going to need something similar over the weekend to stay in the same position, as there are so many people close to the lead, it is so bunched up, you can't play defensively on this course."
His fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell also took advantage of some ideal scoring conditions with a seven-under-par 65, helped by a run of birdies from the second hole, having begun at the 10th and gone out in three under.
He picked up shots in four successive holes and even when he bogeyed the 485-yard sixth he bounced back immediately with a birdie at the next. McDowell is just two shots off the leader.
"Starting the back nine gives you a good opportunity for a fast start," said the Ryder Cup star, who birdied both of the par fives early on the back nine.
"My last 27 holes have been pretty solid and it is nice to be in some sort of touch going into the weekend."
Damien McGrane had three birdies and just a single bogey in a solid 70 that left him three under.
Peter Lawrie (69) and Michael Hoey (70) all improved on their opening rounds to make the cut, right on the two-under mark, but former British Open champion Darren Clarke missed out after a 71 left him on level-par.
Lawrie looked set for an exit after bogeying four of his first six holes but rallied to record six birdies, including one on the par-five 18th that booked his ticket for the weekend.