By Brian Keogh
Graeme McDowell scrambled his way to a one under par 71 to lead the Irish challenge at the halfway stage of the Commercialbank Qatar Masters.
Just a week after missing the cut in Abu Dhabi, McDowell is six shots behind Swede Johan Edfors in a share of 17th place on three under par.
Despite battling a head cold, McDowell has high hopes of bettering his fourth place finish in Doha last season.
He said: "It's always nice to have some weekend work and it's nice also to make the first cut of the year and be able to bank a first cheque.
"I didn't hit the ball great tee-to-green but I was happy with the way I scrambled because it was tricky out there in the wind.
"But it's such a weird game because I'm lying at three under par and I haven't played as good this Thursday or Friday as I played the first two days last week in Abu Dhabi.
"Tee to green I was probably five shots better last week but I missed the cut and this week I've chipped and putted well and got the breaks, and made a few birdies and I find myself right in the mix.
"That's probably more rewarding to play badly and be in the mix than it is to play great and not get the results out of it."
Teenager Rory McIlroy, 18, finished poorly for the second day running but still made the cut with ease on two under after a 71.
After a bogey at his last hole, McIlroy said: "Of course, I'm pleased to have made the cut but dropping a shot at 18 for a second time wasn't nice
"I'm just outside the top-20 but it would be much nicer going to the weekend top-10."
Damien McGrane (71) made the cut on one under with Peter Lawrie (72) surviving on the mark after getting up at 4.30 am for hi 7 am tee time.
Paul McGinley and Gary Murphy missed the cut after rounds of 70 and 71.
Leader Edfors fired a six-under par 66 to lead by two strokes from South Africa's Charl Schwartzel and the in-form Lee Westwood.
Schwartzel carded a five-under 67 while Westwood hit a 70.