Willett started Friday at Wentworth Club trailing by one shot, but turned in a tournament-record 6-under 29 to reach 12 under for the tournament. Willett birdied Nos. 3-6 and 8-9.
The back nine wasn’t as kind.
The reigning Masters champion dropped a shot at the par-4 10th and bogeyed Nos. 15-17. He bookended that latter stretch with birdies on Nos. 14 and 18, but it totaled for an inward 39 and a second-round 68.
"Different," Willett said when asked to describe his round. "Played great most of the day and dropped a couple of horrible golf shots in there.
"To make birdie [on 18] was good, showed a little bit of mental maturity."