Al Jazeera's Joanna Gasiorowska reports from the second round at the Qatar Masters, which sees world number one Lee Westwood fail to make the cut while a little-known Austrian pursues an unlikely dream.
Westwood and sixth-ranked Paul Casey missed the cut while number two Martin Kaymer and seventh-ranked Steve Stricker scraped through by the skin of their teeth on Friday.
While some of the heavyweights struggled to cope with the difficult Doha Golf Club course, Brier opened up a one-stroke lead after a faultless six-under 66 gave him a seven-under tally of 137.
The 42-year-old Brier was one ahead of South African Darren Fichardt (68) while defending champion Robert Karlsson of Sweden (69), Briton Richard Finch (69) and Dane Thomas Bjorn (65) were sharing third place on 139.
Briton Westwood cited early-season rust after rounds of 73 and 75 meant he failed to qualify for the weekend on four-over 148.
Kaymer recovered from an opening 77 to shoot a 70 and wound up right on the cut mark of 147. If the German could finish in the top two on Sunday he would dethrone Westwood as world number one.
American Stricker also squeezed through with rounds of 76 and 71 but Briton Casey, winner of last week's Volvo Champions event in Bahrain, went out after following an opening 74 with a second-round 75.
Brier enjoyed a welcome return to form on Friday after losing his European Tour card last year and having to return to qualifying school.
'Back to my roots'
"At the end of the season I really had to go back to my roots by playing qualifying school," said the twice tour winner.
"Today I could see in the morning there was a little less wind and the opportunities were there. I kept the ball in play and holed two or three really long putts."
Kaymer was satisfied with his improved showing but still uncomfortable on the putting surfaces.
"I was not very pleased yesterday with the way I played so I am a little happier today," he said. "But then it's the funny nature of this sport we play.
"One day you can have a 77 without one birdie and then today you can shoot a round of 70 with two birdies and no bogeys. I am trying hard to shoot a good score but I just can't putt on these greens."
Bjorn produced one of the day's highlights with a run of five straight birdies from the second hole.
On the flip side of the coin former world number four Henrik Stenson threw his wedge into the lake after duffing a chip as he also missed the cut.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies