Rory McIlroy shot a five-under 67 to lift himself up to second, just one shot off Matt Fitzpatrick, at the halfway point of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai on Friday.
Home hope and overnight leader Li Haotong slipped three shots off the pace but McIlroy is motoring well and set himself up for a strong weekend charge.
Fitzpatrick, the world No 27, showed a magic touch with the putter, capping his day with a 15-foot birdie at the last to also card a five-under 67 in the second round at Sheshan International.
The Englishman leads the way with an 11-under 133 total at the only World Golf Championships event held outside North America.
In hot pursuit, McIlroy reeled off four straight early birdies before his putter cooled off, though he had no trouble brushing in a three-foot eagle putt at the par-five 18th after a magnificent approach shot.
American defending champion Xander Schauffele (69), Australian Adam Scott (69) and South Korean Im Sung-jae (69) were two behind the leader.
Li, after an opening 64 on Thursday, managed only two birdies in a 72 that left him equal sixth.
Meanwhile Shane Lowry shot a second consecutive level-par 72 and sits in a tie for 50th, 11 off leader Fitzpatrick.