McDowell stays in control
Ryder Cup star Graeme McDowell maintained his brilliant form at Sheshan International to remain in command at the halfway stage of the £5.4milllion WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai.
McDowell, who won all three of his matches in Europe's victory over the United States in September, carded a second successive 67 to lie 10 under par, three shots ahead of Gleneagles team-mate Ian Poulter.
The 35-year-old Northern Irishman fired five birdies and no bogeys and has now played his last 11 rounds at the venue in 49 under par after finishing third in 2011 and again 12 months ago.
Poulter, who was runner-up to Dustin Johnson last year and won the title when it was staged at Mission Hills in 2012, birdied four of his last five holes to match McDowell's 67.
And double Masters champion Bubba Watson went one better with birdies at all five of the closing stretch in his 67 to finish six under alongside Japan's Hiroshi Iwata, whose 65 was the best score of the week so far.
McDowell won the US Open in 2010 but has yet to win one of the WGC events and told Sky Sports 4: " It would be very special. The WGC's are a special tier of events, there's no doubt about that and this has always been one I had my eye on. This one and Doral (venue for the WGC-Cadillac Championship) are the two golf courses I feel I perform well on.
"But this is a world-class field. They are bunching up behind me and I have to get out there tomorrow and keep the pedal down and position myself for Sunday and give myself a sniff on the back nine."
Asked to explain his remarkable scoring at Sheshan, McDowell added: " I think it's the fact you don't have to hit it a long way, you have to be accurate and I like these greens. I read them well here, this course is always so well presented and I just enjoy playing it.
" I didn't play as well as I did yesterday. I missed a lot more fairways, which is a big key on this golf course. You must find fairways to have a chance out there. I got lucky a couple of times and I made some good saves.
"It wasn't my best ball-striking round but I hung in there and I'm right where I want to be going into the weekend."
In contrast, Poulter was delighted with his performance in his second tournament with new Titleist clubs as he looked to put an injury-plagued campaign behind him.
" It was great. I played very, very solid," said Poulter, who has slipped to 44th in the world rankings. "Probably the best I've played all year, which is very exciting.
"It was a little frustrating the first 13 holes that I was missing chances, but four birdies in the last five holes, chances started to go in at the end, and I'm very happy.
"I played with Graeme in the last round last year and he likes this golf course and played well, and I've had success around here as well. So if you're within six shots, then you've got a great chance on Sunday."
Watson was just level par for his round after 13 holes but produced a brilliant finish with five birdies in a row, which included using his four wood to "chip" in from the fringe on the 17th after a more orthodox chip in on the previous hole.
"It was a struggle," said the left-hander, who finished eighth last year. "I hit some good shots but couldn't make some putts. Hit some bad shots and made some putts. And then to finish that strong, it was a great round of golf, or great last five holes I guess you could say.
"It's kind of like where I was last year. I was hanging around right there going into the weekend so I look forward to the challenge. Hopefully I can play a little better this time on the weekend."
World number two Adam Scott had closed to within one of McDowell with four birdies in his first six holes, but ran up a quadruple-bogey nine on the eighth after a wild hook into the trees ended in an unplayable position and his fifth shot was stymied by a large rock in front of the green.
The former Masters champion also double-bogeyed the ninth and dropped another shot on the 11th, but eagled the 14th and birdied the 16th in an eventful 72 that left him eight off the lead on two under.