Paul Dunne led the Turkish Airlines Open after the opening round, but Justin Rose was just a shot back as he chases a victory that would see him return to the top of the rankings.
Rose became the world number one for the first time with a second-placed finish at the BMW Championship in September, before Brooks Koepka dethroned the Englishman by winning The CJ Cup last month.
But, defending champion Rose can once again move to the summit if he triumphs at the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort, where the early signs look good for the Ryder Cup star.
An eagle at the fourth contributed to a bogey-free six-under 65, enough to end Thursday in a tie for second with Padraig Harrington and Thorbjorn Olesen in a talented field.
Yet, Dunne led the way on seven under. He started at the 11th with five birdies from his first nine holes, before sinking a long putt on the 10th to end the day.
Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood were among seven players on five under in a tie for fifth, with Tommy Fleetwood two shots further back.
Thomas Bjorn (73) and Thomas Pieters (75) both endured difficult days, leaving plenty to do to make the cut on Friday.
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