Rory McIlroy will enter the weekend at the WGC-HSBC Champions one shot behind leader Matt Fitzpatrick after both men carded five-under 67s in Shanghai.
World number two McIlroy started the day three strokes adrift of overnight leader Li Haotong, but he briefly had a two-shot lead on Friday after a run of four birdies in a row between the third and sixth.
Dropped shots at nine and 16, coupled with Fitzpatrick’s blemish-free round, saw the Englishman – who made birdies at the final two holes – hit the front.
However, McIlroy ensured he will go into the weekend brimming with confidence after an eagle at the par-five 18th, where his remarkable approach shot left him with a two-foot putt.
McIlroy has not won on the European Tour since 2016 but has finished second seven times in that run.
“Delighted with the first two rounds,” he said in quotes published on the European Tour’s website.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 1, 2019
“To put myself right in contention going into the weekend is something that I wanted to do.
“It’s something that I haven’t done a lot of over the last few weeks.
“I’ve sort of had bad starts and then clawed my way back into a good position at the end but to be right in the tournament after two days, I’m excited.”
Fitzpatrick, who is 11 under par for the tournament after coming home in 32 on Friday, is bidding to record his first victory in 2019 after winning at least one European Tour tournament each year since 2015.
He is two strokes clear of Adam Scott, Im Sung-jae and defending champion Xander Schauffele, with Li and Victor Perez a shot further back after both men were unable to crack 70.