Abu Dhabi - Danish prospect Thorbjorn Olesen outshone the big guns to take the early clubhouse lead in the second round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Friday.
The 22-year-old Manchester United fan started the day at two under 70, and he bounded up the leaderboard with an outward half of 32 to get to six under.
Two more birdies came his way early on the back nine and at that stage he was three clear of the field with joint first round leaders Rory McIlroy and Robert Karlsson just starting their second rounds.
But he bogeyed the last to come in with a 67 and a halfway total of seven under.
Olesen enjoyed an outstanding rookie year in 2011 with runner-up finishes in South Africa and at the Italian and French Opens which left him at 48th in the Race to Dubai rankings.
"There are so many good guys in this event, it's tough," he said.
"If Tiger (Woods) plays well he's unbeatable I think. But I just try to play my own game and try to be up there on Sunday."
McIlroy, meanwhile, got off to a horror start - twice being in bunkers on the first before birdieing the second and enduring a double bogey sixth at the third to fall to three under.
Back-to-back birdies at the fourth and the fifth though saw him move in the right direction once again.
Playing partner Woods, playing his first event of the year, opened with a birdie at the first, but he handed that back at the third to stay at two under.
The final member of the marquee grouping, world number one Luke Donald, of England joined the American on two under with a birdie at the second.
Also making moves on Friday morning, and playing in the same top grouping, were Spaniard Sergio Garcia, Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa and Ireland's Padraig Harrington.
Harrington said he saw sure signs that his form was returning after he struggled throughout last year.
"At this stage of the season, everything is looking pretty rosy, but it always is at the start of the year," he said.
"You are always optimistic that everything is going to fall into place and I do believe that I've seen some good signs."
All three finished the day on four under 140 with Garcia and Harrington shooting 69s and Schwartzel a 70.
World number two Lee Westwood stayed in touch despite a painful neck with a battling 72 for level par, but it was a disappointing day for Martin Kaymer, seeking a rare hat-trick of wins here in Abu Dhabi.
The German world number four struggled to a five over 77 on Thursday and he was little better on Friday coming in with a 73 to stand at six over for the tournament and unlikely to survive the cut.
In the clubhouse, Scotland's former British Open champion Paul Lawrie showed a welcome return to form with a 69 to stand at five under, two shots off the lead where he was joined by Jean-Baptiste Gonnet of France (71) and Robert Rock of England (70).
Karlsson was going along steadily in his second round getting to six under through five holes.