Tony Finau knows he must “stay in attack mode” to fend off a star-studded chasing pack after taking a three-shot lead at the halfway mark in the WGC-HSBC Champions.
The American shot a five-under second round of 67 to hit the front on 11 under in Shanghai on Friday.
Finau made eight birdies at Sheshan International Golf Club to move above Ryder Cup team-mate Patrick Reed and would have been in an even stronger position but for a double-bogey at the 11th after his ball took an unfortunate bounce off a sprinkler head.
The world number 17 took that setback in his stride, making three gains in the last five holes, and plans to maintain his positive approach over the weekend.
“I’m really pleased. I played nicely and was happy with the way I finished. I was pleased to make a few birdies coming down the stretch.” said Finau.
“That was about as bad a break as I’ve ever had [on 11], to kick all the way over the green into the hazard. One thing I’ve learned in this game, you take the good with the bad and keep moving forward.
“I knew I was playing well still and [was] still at the top of the leaderboard. [You] just keep plugging along and try to get that back and I was able to do that.
“There’s a lot of great players here that are looking to chase me down. I’ve got to stay in attack mode, continue to make birdies and if I limit the mistakes, I think it will be a good weekend.”
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) October 26, 2018
Reed, looking to make up ground on Race to Dubai leader Francesco Molinari, led by two strokes after the first round, but dropped back into a share of second place with Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose on eight under.
The Masters champion said: “Really it was a grind today. It was one of those days that you easily could have shot 76 or 77 with playing out of the rough all day and hitting three balls in the water.
“Being able to salvage even par and only being three back starting the weekend, I’m happy with where I’m at. All I need to do is tighten it up a little bit and we should be right there and ready to go.
“I’m a little bit behind Francesco and I’m hoping to close that gap and have a chance to hopefully win the Race to Dubai.”