Canizares joins Westwood atop leaderboard in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia ( - Alejandro Canizares fired a second-round, 7-under 65 on Friday and he joined first-round co-leader Lee Westwood atop the leaderboard at the Maybank Malaysian Open.

Canizares and Westwood (67), the defending champion, finished 36 holes at 11- under-par 133 and the duo leads by three shots heading into the weekend. Canizares has two career wins on the European tour, with his last one coming at last year's Trophee Hassan II. Westwood, a 23-time winner on tour, has not won since rolling to a 7-shot victory at this event last season.

The next closest competitor to Canizares and Westwood is Bernd Wiesberger, who has three top-10 finishes in three events so far this season. Wiesberger carded a 6-under 66 on day two at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, putting him alone in third at 8-under 136.

Peter Lawrie also shot a 66, while Paul Waring fired a 68 and they are tied for fourth at 7-under 137. Richard Lee (69) and Richard Bland (70) are one shot further back at minus-6.

Graeme McDowell, who shared the first-round lead with Westwood, struggled in the middle of his round en route to a 1-over 73. McDowell is alone in eighth at 5-under 139.

Canizares, who shot the low round of the day with his 65, went bogey free in his round. The Spaniard started off strong with a birdie at the par-4 first hole before rolling in three straight pars from No. 2. Canizares drained two more birdies on his front nine at five and eight to go along with pars on six, seven and nine.

The 32-year-old started the back nine the same way he did the front nine, with a birdie on No. 10, putting Canizares at 4-under for the day. After rattling off four straight pars from No. 11, Canizares closed his round on fire by making three gains over his final four holes on 15, 16 and 18. The birdie at the last pulled Canizares even with Westwood, who had held the outright lead throughout the majority of his round.

"It was a lot of fun and I played really well," said Canizares. "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."

Westwood was rather slow out of the gate, but a solid back nine kept him tied for the lead at the end of the day. Westwood began with a trio of pars from one before he traded a birdie on four for a bogey on five. His second birdie on No. 7 had Westwood back in red numbers and he made the turn at 1-under following pars on eight and nine.

The 41-year-old Englishman was flawless on the back nine. Westwood was able to stagger four birdies over his final nine holes on 10, 13, 16 and 18 to finish off his 5-under 67.

"I played nicely again," Westwood said. "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."

Wiesberger, who enjoyed his trip to the desert and grabbed three top-10 finishes in the process the last three weeks, started on the back nine first. A bogey on 11 was Wiesberger's only dropped shot of the day as he finished up his front side with birdies on 12, 14 and 16.

Wiesberger drained four more birdies on the front nine, his back, including three over his final four holes.

NOTES: Prior to winning this event last year, Westwood had not won since the 2012 Nordea Masters ... Canizares' other win came all the way back in 2006 at the Russian Open ... Wiesberger played in the final group on the last day of last year's PGA Championship. He wound up finishing tied for 15th ... Gregory Bourdy and Jake Higginbottom both made hole-in-ones on the par-3 15th a day after Waring did it on the same hole in round one ... Chapchai Nirat and Eddie Pepperell both withdrew from the tournament on Friday ... With the cut falling at 2-over 146, 74 players advanced to play the weekend.