Doha, Qatar (SportsNetwork.com) - Bernd Wiesberger fired a 6-under 66 on Thursday and he moved into a share of the lead after two rounds of the Qatar Masters.
Wiesberger ended 36 holes at 9-under-par 135. He was joined there by George Coetzee (67) and Branden Grace (68). All three have won on the European Tour with Grace's win last December at the Alfred Dunhill Championship being the most recent victory.
Former U.S. Amateur champion Byeong-hun An and Emiliano Grillo both carded 3- under 69s in round two at Doha Golf Club. The duo shares fourth place with Marc Warren (65). Warren's 65 matched the low round of the day.
Richard Green birdied three of the last five holes en route to carding a 67. He stands at 7-under-par 137 and is tied for seventh place with Alejandro Canizares and 2003 champion Darren Fichardt, who both shot 70 on Thursday.
First-round leader Oliver Fisher stumbled to a 1-over 73. He slid into a share of 10th at minus-6. Among those tied with Fisher is defending champion Sergio Garcia, who carded a 69 for the second day in a row.
Wiesberger, the highest ranked of the leaders at world No. 67, got up and down for birdie at the 10th to open his round. After a pair of pars, he poured in four straight birdie chances from the 13th to jump to minus-8.
The two-time European Tour winner picked up another birdie at the first. He ran off five pars in a row from the second to remain atop the leaderboard. Wiesberger stumbled to a bogey at the seventh, but he bounced back with a birdie at the ninth to end at 9-under.
"It gives me great confidence. If I keep on doing what I'm doing, I think I've worked on the right things the last couple of weeks and it shows," said Wiesberger.
Coetzee, who won the Joburg Open last year, also opened with a birdie on the 10th. Over the next five holes, he carded four pars and a birdie at No. 13.
The South African birdied the par-4 16th for the second day in a row, and he also birdied the 18th en route to making the turn at minus-8.
Coetzee birdied the second, but tripped to a bogey at the fifth. He atoned for that mistake with a birdie on the par-3 eighth and he closed with a par on the ninth.
"I'm playing well. My swing is coming along slightly and I'm putting pretty nicely," Coetzee stated. "I've just got to wait for my birdies and not force it and kind of play the golf course like I know it."
Grace was the last of the three leaders to post 9-under. He birdied the first and followed with four birdies in a row. Grace carded back-to-back birdies at six and seven to move within one of the lead.
After four consecutive pars from the eighth, Grace birdied the 12th for the second straight day to climb to minus-9. He stumbled to a bogey at 14 and dipped one back, but he 2-putted for birdie at the short par-4 16th to move back into a tie for the lead. Grace parred the final two holes to end there.
"I really thought somebody was going to push to 10-under. You saw the guys from this morning, there were 6-unders and 5-under and 7-unders," said Grace. "The greens are still very good. They didn't spike up at all, so it's a big surprise nobody really pushed on."
NOTES: Wiesberger won the only previous time he had the 36-hole lead, which came at the 2012 Ballantine's Championship ... Coetzee, who shared second place at this event in 2013, has failed to hold the two 36-hole leads he has had ... Grace has finished in the top-15 at this event each of the last two years and he has won three of the four times he had at least a piece of the second-round lead ... The cut line fell at 1-under-par 143 and 74 players made the cut ... Among those that failed to make it to the final two rounds were former major winners Jose Maria Olazabal, Y.E. Yang and Charl Schwartzel as well as last week's winner Gary Stal ... Schwartzel struggled to a quintuple- bogey on the par-3 eighth, while also carding five bogeys and four birdies in his round of 78.