After another record-breaking day for Ernie Els at the Royal Melbourne course here one of his principal rivals had all but conceded the South African a third Heineken Classic title.
There was no repeat of his opening round of 60, but Els still hit a six-under par 66 to become the first man to shoot 18-under par in the opening two rounds of a European Tour event. He sat seven shots ahead at the half-way stage - equalling another European Tour record - with Richard Green on 11-under. Adam Scott and Peter Fowler are one shot back.
Scott claimed there was no better player in the world than Els and predicted another victory for the South African. "I don't see anyone catching him at the moment," said the 23-year-old Australian, who won on both the European and USPGA Tours last year. "I honestly believe that when Ernie is on top of his game and Tiger Woods is on top of his game, they are pretty hard to separate."
New Zealand's Michael Campbell could not improve on his first round of eight-under par, slipping down the order. Richard Green lay second going into the weekend while the New Zealand pair of Mahal Pearce and Gareth Paddison plus Australian Peter O'Malley were all nine-under-par. One shot further back was England's Ian Poulter, Scotland's Stephen Gallacher and Campbell.
Nick Faldo and Scotland's Raymond Russell finished on three-under par. Greg Norman, Sandy Lyle and Paul Lawrie just made the even-par cut on minus one. But Ian Woosnam missed out - his three-under par 69 was not enough after carding a five-over 77 on Thursday.
Heineken Classic (Melbourne, Aus) Leading second-round scores (Aus unless stated): 126 E Els (SA) 60 66. 133 R Green (Aus) 66 67. 134 A Scott (Aus) 66 68, P Fowler (Aus) 66 68. 135 M Pearce (NZ) 65 70; P O'Malley (Aus) 66 69; G Paddison (NZ) 67 68. 136 M Campbell (NZ) 64 72; I Poulter (Eng) 68 68; S Gardiner (Aus) 69 67; S Gallacher (Sco) 68 68. 137 P Hanson (Swe) 67 70; D Mckenzie (Aus) 69 68; P Senior (Aus) 70 67; D Howell (Eng) 68 69; M Tunnicliff (Eng) 69 68. 138 C Carmichael (Aus) 65 73; S Khan (Eng) 70 68, *N Flanagan (Aus) 67 71; N Green (Aus) 68 70; J Kingston (SA) 71 67.Reuse content