Defending champion Luke Donald is five shots off the pace after the second round of the Madrid Masters.
A poor end to the day saw the world number one finish on six-under-par, while fellow Englishman Ross McGowan, who was the overnight leader, carded a 72 to leave him on eight-under.
The surprise package at the El Encin Golf Hotel was another Englishman, Lee Slattery, who shot a 66 to go 11-under and top the leaderboard.
"I was actually getting too cautious with my game but round here you can't be, you just whack it," said the 33-year-old. "This suits me because I just enjoy it and don't think too much - that's the key. I don't think I've ever walked off the course feeling so relaxed."
Meanwhile, Francesco Molinari has taken a share of second on 10-under.