Luke Donald leads at halfway in the Madrid Masters after Welshman Rhys Davies just failed to crown his 25th birthday by taking top spot.
Former Walker Cup player Davies, who has already won in his first full season on the European Tour, was tied for the lead with two holes of his second round to play yesterday.
But a bogey on the short 17th robbed him of top spot and he then missed a nine-foot birdie chance at the last on a day which saw Sergio Garcia miss his first halfway cut on European soil for nearly six years.
"I was a little disappointed the way I finished," said Davies. "I thought I could have got the lead on my own, but all in all I'm not going to complain. I'm right in with a shout."
A week after losing the BMW PGA Championship by a shot – and that after a double bogey on the penultimate hole – Donald leads on 12 under par after adding a 67 to his opening 65. Alone of the three first-round leaders to have a morning start, Donald went six clear of the field when he turned in 31 and then added further birdies on the second and sixth.
But he three-putted the seventh and bogeyed the next hole after plugging in a bunker.
"It's hard to play perfect golf for four days, but the two bogeys were not really bad shots and I feel like I have a lot better control with my irons this week," said the 32-year-old, who despite being 13th in the world has not had a win in Europe for six years or anywhere in the last four.
"I keep knocking at the door and hopefully it will open soon. I feel like I should have won a few in the last few years, but I'm in a great position here."
Davies was on the practice putting green when he saw Donald's score, but promptly went out in 33 and, after stumbling with a bogey six at the 10th, had three more birdies in four holes.
Two shots further back in third place is Davies' compatriot Jamie Donaldson. He was the other man to open with a 65, but could add "only" a 70.
Garcia, level par overnight, knew he needed to find form in a hurry after finding water with his second shot and resuming with a double bogey seven.
He did manage six birdies, but five bogeys followed to leave him with a 73 and one-over aggregate.
"Nobody likes to miss a cut in front of your home crowd," said Garcia. "I'm just not playing well enough."
Ulsterman Graeme McDowell, who discovered this week that he had kept his place in the world's top 50, is in fourth on eight under after a second successive 68.