The Englishman moved up the leaderboard courtesy of a bogey-free second round 68, with all four of his birdies coming on his back nine as he matched the clubhouse target of eight under par.
That had been initially set by Finland’s Mikko Korhonen, who recovered from double bogey seven on the ninth hole to card a one under par 71, and he was joined by Spanish pair Jorge Campillo (67) and Nacho Elvira (69) Welshman Bradley Dredge (72) and South African Thomas Aiken (68), before Aiken’s compatriot Jaco Van Zyl, playing in the afternoon groups, became the seventh player to share the lead.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat (70) and Korea’s Jeunghun Wang (67), who were grouped together, then made it nine players tied at the top, the first time that has happened at the 36-hole stage of any tournament on the European Tour.
It also equalled the record for the most number of players tied for the lead after any completed round in a European Tour event, set after the opening round of the Wales Open in 2007.
A further seven players are just one shot back on seven par on a packed leaderboard at Doha Golf Club, while World Number Ten Alex Noren (70) and four-time Major Champion Ernie Els (70), the 2005 winner, are a further shot adrift on six under par.
Meanwhile, with the cut falling at two under par – just six shots behind the leaders – Englishman Chris Paisley secured his spot for the weekend with a spectacular finish to his round, birdieing the 16th and 18th holes, with an ace on the par three 17th sandwiched in between thanks to perfect nine iron from 135 yards.
Paisley looked to be on his way home before he covered the back nine in just 30 shots to sign for a round of 67 and a three under par total, with the added bonus of US$150,000 from Qatar Duty Free for the hole-in-one, which was his first on the European Tour.