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 led overnight after an opening 64 and he added a 65 at Hong Kong Golf Club yesterday to get to 11 under and extend his lead over Australian Sam Brazel.
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 he pulled away, with back-to-back birdies on the eighth and ninth and further gains on the 13th and 15th thanks to fine iron play.
A bogey from Brazel on the ninth – his penultimate hole – 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 ir will end soon.
“I know I will win again,” he told the European Tour’s official website. “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, so it will happen. Hopefully 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 in the group at five under, with defending champion Justin Rose four shots further back.
Meanwhile, at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters Felicity Johnson carded a brilliant 64 at theto take a two-stroke lead over the rest of the field heading into the final day.
The season-ending Ladies European Tour event was reduced to 54 holes on Wednesday after caddie Max Zechmann collapsed on the course before being taken to hospital where he later died.
The competition began on Thursday with Florentyna Parker shooting the lowest round, yet it was another Englishwoman who emerged ahead of the pack at the 36-hole stage as Johnson fired an eight-under-par round, just one shy of the Emirates Golf Club course record, to fly up the leaderboard.
Kylie Walker is top Scot in a tie for 13th on two under, while Kelsey MacDonald and Carly Booth were a shot further back in a tie for 23rd.
Johnson, one-over par after the first round, made gains at four of the first five holes before adding another four birdies on the back nine, with Parker’s up-and-down round leaving her two shots behind.
“It’s only a three-round event, so you try and put yourself in a good position heading into the final day - I think I did that pretty well,” Johnson said.