Italy’s Francesco Molinari has overcome a shaky start to maintain his lead after completing his second round of the European PGA Championship at Wentworth in England.
Molinari made bogey fives at the first and third holes but recovered to post a 69 to add to his opening 65 for a two-round total of 134, 10-under par.
Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo also jumped up the leaderboard with a 65 to finish two shots shy of Molinari whilst England’s James Morrison got himself to within three of the lead after handing in a 66.
World number one Rory McIlroy was a lunchtime starter but Luke Donald had a second successive 70 to lie six shots off the pace set by Molinari and Holland Joost Luiten put himself in the frame with a 67 to lie five-under after 36 holes.
Morrison was out in 33 and back in 33 making seven birdies in all as he bids to land a quick fire double after winning the Spanish Open last week.
Molinari got his two dropped shots back at the fourth and fifth holes before coming home in 34 and finishing with birdies at the two par-5 finishing holes.
The Italian is using a new putter at Wentworth – despite finishing in a tie for second in Spain last week and he was on good terms with the club as he maintained his challenge for a fourth career European Tour title.
“I have got a new putter with a bigger face and more of a mallet shape,” Molinari told reporters. “It is easier to line up with.
“The start here was not as good as the first round but I managed to get a couple of birdies to get to even par then got a few more chances and took a few of them. I am in a great position but there is still a lot of golf to be played.”
Grillo hit a five-wood second shot to within inches of the hole at the par-5 18th to make his second eagle of the back nine after holing a long putt from the fringe of the green at the 12th.
The 22-year-old has not registered a win on the European Tour but is right in the mix here after finishing 11th and in a tie for third in China and sixth in last week’s Spanish Open in his last three starts.
Grillo said: “I am playing well at the moment and being in contention is what I need to do to win. I have been doing that and if you keep knocking on the door somebody is going to open it.
“It’s my first time making the cut in this tournament.
“I’ve been making a lot of cuts and arriving here, I knew that I didn’t have a good record, and making the cut. The past two years, I didn’t shoot any rounds under par and this year, I shot seven under par which is pretty good out here.”