Kuala Lumpur - Lee Westwood stretched his lead at the Malaysian Open on Friday, putting on a clinic with his irons as the Englishman moved closer to ending a nearly two-year title drought.
Westwood notched a six-under 66 on day two to move to 13-under at the tournament's half-way point, four strokes clear of Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts and Antonio Lascuna of the Philippines.
Precise wedge play put Westwood in position to sink five birdie putts from within four feet (one metre) on the front nine at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. He had eight birdies in all.
Westwood's lead would be greater if not for a double-bogey on the difficult 11th, where he found the water.
"It was solid stuff. I got a bit unlucky at the 11th. The wind just gusted on me and it came up short into the water," said Westwood, a former world number one who is coming off a seventh-place finish at last week's Masters in the United States.
"But I rallied well and ended up shooting 66."
Westwood, who last won at the 2012 Nordea Masters in Sweden, credited swing tweaks made under his new coach.
"I'm playing a lot better since I started working with Mike Walker about six or seven weeks ago. I saw an immediate improvement on the range."
Lascuna got off to a hot start Friday with five birdies in the first seven holes, shooting the day's low score - a seven-under 65.
He now stands at nine-under par for the $2.75 million tournament, which is jointly sanctioned by the European and Asian tours.
Colsaerts carded a 69 to stay level with Lascuna and keep Westwood in sight.
Former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen ended the day nine strokes off the lead. The South African shot a 68 to go to four-under for the tournament.
It was a round to remember for Spain's Pablo Larrazabal, who plunged into a water hazard in a desperate bid to escape a swarm of stinging hornets.
"It was the scariest moment of my career, for sure. I've never been so scared," he said.
Larrazabal was walking along the fairway of the fifth hole when the hornets struck, stinging him on the face and head.
"My caddie told me to run, so I start running like a crazy guy, but the hornets were still there, so the other players told me to jump in the lake," he said.
The scare did little harm to his play - after brief treatment by a tournament doctor, he birdied the hole on his way to a four-under 68 for the day.
Larrazabal is tied for 25th at two-under, level with defending champion Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, who continued his erratic play by starting the front nine with three bogeys before fighting back with four birdies later.
131 - Lee Westwood (ENG) 65-66
135 - Antonio Lascuna (PHI) 70-65, Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL) 66-69
136 - Danny Willett (ENG) 70-66
137 - Julien Quesne (FRA) 68-69, Andy Sullivan (ENG) 70-67, Eduardo de la Riva (ESP) 69-68
138 - Ricardo Santos (POR) 67-71, Masahiro Kawamura (JPN) 68-70
139 - Garth Mulroy (RSA) 71-68, Scott Jamieson (SCO) 68-71, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 68-71
140 - Steve Lewton (ENG) 71-69, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 72-68, Scott Hend (AUS) 70-70, Michael Hoey (NIR) 67-73, Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 69-71
141 - Arnond Vongvanij (THA) 70-71, Tom Lewis (ENG) 70-71, Prom Meesawat (THA) 70-71, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 69-72, Rikard Karlberg (SWE) 72-69, S.S.P. Chowrasia (IND) 71-70, Wade Ormsby (AUS) 70-71