Lee Westwood and Alejandro Canizares shared the lead on 11 under par at the halfway stage of the Maybank Malaysian Open, while Peter Lawrie is just four shots behind.

Westwood, the defending champion, started the day level with Graeme McDowell on six under and registered his first birdie on four in Kuala Lumpur.

A bogey on the par-five fifth set him back, but he birdied seven before playing an impressive back nine where he registered four under-par scores.

The Englishman played a neat bunker shot at the 10th, before holing a 12-footer at the 13th and a solid approach saw him able to hole from six feet at the 16th.

Westwood went three clear of the rest after a 20-foot putt for birdie at the last, but Spaniard Canizares was closing in.

Starting the day in sixth, Canizares birdied one, five and eight on the front nine, before scoring four more on the back, including a 20-footer at 15 in a blemish-free round.

Westwood had an impressive opening three rounds in the Gulf last week before a level-par 72 on Sunday in Dubai ruled him out of challenging winner Rory McIlroy.

Lawrie, who lost his tour card last year, shot a 66 to end on seven under

McDowell shot one over and finds himself back in eighth.

Paul McGinley shot a second-round of 76 to end on one over, alongside Michael Hoey but Damien McGrane missed the cut. 

"I played nicely again," Westwood told the European Tour website. "It was pretty solid again and I probably only hit one poor shot all day, from the middle of the fairway on the fifth hole - I was going in with a five iron and blocked it right into the water.

"It was pretty solid again and I probably only hit one poor shot all day"

"Other than that it was very good and I felt very comfortable out there; I hit a lot of fairways and some good iron shots and made some nice putts. It was great to birdie two of the last three and go from one in front to three in front."

Canizares won his first European Tour title in eight years in Morocco last year, and finished 12th in Abu Dhabi and eighth in Qatar this year.

"It was a lot of fun and I played really well," said the 32-year-old.

"I wasn't so good off the tee today, but I putted really well.

"I made some great up-and-downs when I missed a shot, and I'm very happy overall. I can't wait for the weekend - it will be a lot of fun.

"It's a great position to be in and I couldn't ask for any better; hopefully I can keep it going."

Bernd Wiesberger is third on eight under after a second-round 66, with England's Paul Waring and Lawrie of Ireland a further shot behind.

It was a day to forget for Tommy Fleetwood, who started the day in third, but a nightmare score of seven over saw him finish the day back in 64th and two over par, just above the cut line.