Rory McIlroy closed to within one shot of Peter Hanson during the early exchanges of the BMW Masters third round in Shanghai.
The World Number One trailed his Swedish Ryder Cup teammate by two overnight, but playing the first five holes in level par proved good enough to reduce the deficit as scoring conditions toughened significantly.
After two days of low scoring, the wind was up and the tees were back at Lake Malaren to make life difficult for the world-class field.
Hanson, who had nine birdies in his second round 64, picked up where he left off with a gain at the second, but bogeyed the short fourth and three-putted the fifth from the fringe to drop back to 13 under.
McIlroy also birdied the second only to drop a shot at the par five next, and by getting up and down from off the green at the fifth closed the gap.
Nine players were tied for third, although on nine under par they were four shots behind Hanson.
South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and George Coetzee, Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, England’s Paul Casey, Swede Robert Karlsson, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, German Martin Kaymer, Ireland’s Shane Lowry and Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey all had work to do to put themselves in contention for the final round.