The Norwegian, a Rolex Series event winner already this year in Dubai, followed his opening 64 with a 68 on Saturday and is looking good ahead of the final round.
The tournament was cut to 54 holes following the cancellation of Friday's play in memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on Thursday, and out of respect for the Royal Family.
Everyone involved in the championship observed a two-minute silence on Saturday morning.
Hovland posted five birdies in his round, with his only dropped shot coming at the 15th after a rare wayward approach shot.
He said: "I played here in 2019 shortly after I turned pro and I was kind of a little wowed about the experience, as I've watched a lot of European Tour events. But it was a little bit different showing up here the first time with so many people and just seeing the golf course for the first time after seeing it a little bit on TV.
"It was a cool experience that first time and I didn't play as well as I would have liked last year, but I've got a chance to do something tomorrow. So that would be awesome."
Hovland, who turns 25 next weekend, was top five at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at the start of the year before winning the Dubai Desert Classic and he shared fourth place with Tommy Fleetwood at The 150th Open in July.
He is happy with his form heading into the final 18 but knows there is always room for improvement.
He said: "My irons have been really good this week. I've only missed a handful of greens in total for the two rounds and that obviously alleviates a lot of pressure.
"I still I feel like I haven't driven it the best but I keep giving myself looks and I just haven't made too many putts either. It's been really solid tee-to-green."