David Lingmerth earned a one stroke lead after the second round of the Australian PGA Championship on Friday.
The Swede braved the tough conditions to card a four-under-par 68, leaving him on three under for the event, one shot ahead the chasing pack on two under.
The Royal Pines course was hammered with gusty winds on Friday, though somewhat less than Thursday opening round when on six of the field managed under par rounds.
Lingmerth enjoyed a run of five birdies in seven holes in the middle of his round, with dropped shots at the fourth and 17th being the only blemishes.
"This gives me some confidence going into the weekend, but at the same time, these are all players that can shoot seven, eight under, both rounds out there over the weekend," said the 28-year-old after the round.
"I'm going to have to play very well to win, but I do feel like I should have a good shot."
The chasing pack consists of six players, including first round leader Zander Lombard and England's Mark Foster.
The round of the day belonged to Rhein Gibson, who shot a superb eight under 64 to leave him on one under.
Defending champion Greg Chalmers missed the cut after carding 75 to go with his opening round of 76.
The English Open has been revived as part of the new schedule.
Close House Golf Club, near Newcastle, will host the British Masters on July 22.
The event was last staged in 2002.
The tournament at Close House, scheduled to start on July 30, is set to be the first European Tour event since the coronavirus crisis halted action.
The world number one believes it would be the ‘right call’ to push the event back to 2021.
The exhibition match, against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady, raised 20 million dollars.
The Dutchman finished third and second in the first two weeks of the home-based competition.
NFL stars Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will also be involved.
The US President was among the viewers watching the TaylorMade Driving Relief.
The US President phoned in as McIlroy played in a Sunday fundraiser for coronavirus victims.