Rafa Cabrera Bello produced another brilliant performance in Fanling to open up a three-shot lead after the second round of the UBS Hong Kong Open.
The Ryder Cup star had led overnight after an opening 64 and he added a 65 on Friday at Hong Kong Golf Club to get to 11 under and extend his lead over Australian Sam Brazel.
Sheffield’s Masters champion Danny Willett was then at six under alongside fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, American Paul Peterson and South African Justin Walters.
Brazel twice got on level terms with Cabrera Bello but twice the Spanish Ryder Cup player pulled away, with back-to-back birdies on the eighth and ninth and further gains on the 13th and 15th thanks to some dialled-in iron play.
A bogey from Brazel on the ninth – his penultimate hole – then provided the Spaniard with a cushion as he goes in search of a first win in almost five years.
The 32-year-old has enjoyed an excellent 2016, not missing a single cut on the European Tour and wining 2.5 points from three matches as Europe were defeated in the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.
His last win was at the Dubai Desert Classic in 2012 but he insists his trophy drought is not a burden and is confident he will get over the finish line soon.
“I know I will win again,” he said. “I’ve won before. I just need to keep giving myself chances.
“I have been working on some mistakes that maybe I have done on other occasions. I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong not to get the win, so it will happen. Hopefully it will happen in two days’ time.”
Willett signed for six birdies and two bogeys in his 66 and he was pleased to be back at the right end of the leaderboard after a recent run of indifferent form.
“It’s nice to be in this position after the last few months,” he said “We played pretty well yesterday and didn’t take loads of chances and played just nice and steady again today.”
England’s Steve Lewton was then in the group at five under, with defending champion Justin Rose four shots further back.
Leeds’ Marcus Armitage, playing only his second event as a European Tour member, has made the cut after a 71 left him one under par.
Huddersfield’s Chris Hanson and Malton’s Simon Dyson are both headed home after rounds of 73 and 74 respectively.