(Reuters) - American Tony Finau powered through the front nine on his way to a three-shot lead after two rounds at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai on Friday.
Slightly calmer winds than during the opening round at Sheshan International Golf Club allowed for some low scoring in the morning and Finau was at the forefront as he signed for five-under-par 67 to be 11-under overall.
The 29-year-old carded four birdies to make the turn in 32, surging to the top spot alongside overnight leader Patrick Reed.
Reed, one of the late starters, found the water on the sixth to hand Finau a three-shot advantage before the leader found an unfortunate bounce off a sprinkle-head on the 11th to go way back of the green, eventually salvaging a double-bogey.
Finau dropped another shot on the 13th but three birdies in the last five holes maintained his grip at the top of the leaderboard.
After making his Ryder Cup debut and recording a top-10 finish at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Finau remains keen to build on the momentum this weekend.
“I played nicely and was happy with the way I finished,” he said.
“There’s a lot of great players here that are looking to chase me down. I’ve got to stay in attack mode, continue to make birdies and if I limit the mistakes, I think it will be a good weekend.”
Masters champion Reed’s steady progress on the back of seven straight pars was dampened by a bogey on the 14th but a birdie on the 16th ensured he finished with a 72, sitting eight-under alongside English duo Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood.
Defending champion Rose fired a bogey-free 67, studded with five birdies, to put himself back in contention, while Fleetwood signed for a second consecutive 68.
American Xander Schauffele made a birdie on the final hole for a 71 to finish seven-under, a shot ahead of compatriot Patrick Cantlay.
Belgian Thomas Pieters sank an eagle at the par-five 14th to match the lowest round of the week with a 64.
The 26-year-old shared the seventh spot at five-under alongside Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Argentine Emiliano Grillo and Americans Keegan Bradley, Pat Perez and Kyle Stanley.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty