Francesco Laporta shot a sublime nine-under 63 to take a one-shot lead at halfway in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
The 124-ranked Laporta lit up the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Friday, birdying six of the last eight holes to move above Matt Fitzpatrick and Rafa Cabrera Bello, .
Laporta charged 49 places on the leaderboard to head into the weekend in the mix for a first European Tour title.
He hit the turn in 33, having made three gains on the front nine of a bogey-free round.
"I just want to enjoy the weekend," said the 29-year-old surprise front-runner, who will tee off on 10 under on Saturday.
"I played solid all 18 holes, my putting was solid, my driver, my irons.
"I gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdies and so when I had the opportunities, I took them. Every time I was putting for birdie, I made it. It was a great day."
Fitzpatrick had set the clubhouse target with a five-under 67 following four birdies in the last six holes.
The Englishman is bogey-free for the week, sitting in a share of second with Cabrera Bello, who shot a four-under 68.
Cabrera Bello's countryman Sergio Garcia, Li Haotong and Renato Paratore are two shots adrift of Laporta.
Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen are among five players on seven under, while world number one Brooks Koepka slipped back to three under with a three-over 75.
Defending champion Shane Lowry will not be retaining his title after the Open champion missed the cut.