Tiger Woods shot a 5-under 67 in the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday but was eclipsed by a little-known Englishman who once fetched golf balls for him at a driving range.
Woods, who had a 68 on Thursday, struggled with his putting for the second straight day and stood at 9 under for two rounds - five shots off the clubhouse lead.
"It was kind of weird," he said. "I just didn't feel like I made many putts today. I was all around the hole and most of them were actually misreads."
Ross Fisher, who missed the cut last month in Abu Dhabi, shot a second consecutive 65 at the Emirates Golf Club and was at 14 under. He had eight birdies and a bogey.
"I'm hitting the ball probably as good as I've ever hit it," Fisher said. "It would be tough to have a third 65 but you know it's out there if you play well."
The Desert Classic is just the second tournament in which Fisher has found himself at the top of the leaderboard. The first was the 2005 China Open.
The 26-year-old Fisher said the closest contact he's had with Woods was when he worked on a driving range when he was 18 at the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth in England. Fisher said he was "picking up his balls, so I've never met him or spoke to him."
Now Fisher faces the possibility of playing alongside Woods this weekend.
"It would be an absolute thrill to play with the best player in the world," Fisher said. "Obviously all the pressure is going to be on him because he's expected to win. No one's going to be thinking, 'I think Ross can take this guy on.' I'll try not to watch him too closely because at the end of the day, I'm going to try and beat the guy."
By midday Friday, Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell and Sweden's Peter Hanson were tied for second at 10-under.
Play was suspended in early afternoon because of a rare desert thunderstorm.
South Africa's Ernie Els, a three-time winner at the Desert Classic, was at 9-under after eight holes when the rain came. Woods had five birdies and no bogeys, despite teeing off into the trees on his first hole.
On the 13th, Woods fell to his knees and bludgeoned the ground with his club in frustration after a chip for an eagle dribbled a few inches from the hole. He settled for a birdie.
Playing the back nine first, Woods dueled all day with his partner, Miguel Angel Jimenez. The 43-year-old Spaniard was at 11-under for a few holes before he bogeyed the 15th and 9th and finished with a 68. He was tied with Woods at 9-under.
"I've got to go practice first of all and get organized and be ready for tomorrow," Woods said. "It's just a matter of going out there and making a bunch of birdies. The golf course is pretty benign."
He enjoyed bantering with the ponytail-wearing Jimenez. "He's so funny. Some of the one-liners he comes up without there are pretty good," Woods said.
Hanson surged from well back in the back, shooting a 65 with seven birdies after Thursday's 69.
"Good fun," Hanson said. "Happy with the way I'm playing."