Robert Rock claimed sole leadership of the European Tour’s BMW Italian Open after Friday’s second round as he edged a shot clear of the chasing pack.
The 34-year-old Englishman held a share of the overnight lead with compatriot Chris Wood, and a round of 68 on Friday moved him to 12 under for the tournament. Rock had just a single bogey on his card, at the par-3 15th, but picked up five birdies including one on the final hole that took him to the top of the leaderboard.
Wood remains close behind, though, just one shot back on 11 under after a second round of 69 that included five birdies and two bogeys.
He was joined by Dutchman Joost Luiten, who climbed the standings with a 5-under 67 round. Luiten sank five birdies and added an eagle on the par-5 11th to boost his score.
Italians Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero sat among a group of six players tied for fourth, two shots behind Rock. Molinari recovered from an early bogey to sink five birdies on his way to a round of 68, while teenager Manassero also recorded five birdies, with a dropped shot on the 15th his only blemish.
Englishman Gary Boyd joined the duo with a fine 7-under 65 that saw him leap 27 places, with Welshman Rhys Davies, Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and another Italian, Lorenzo Gagli, completing the group.
Gagli was another big mover by climbing 16 places with his round of 66, while Davies carded five birdies and one bogey to complete the second round in 4 under.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke saw a major improvement on his opening round of 71 by picking up six shots to finish the day on 7 under overall.
Defending champion Fredrik Andersson Hed sits two shots further back after a 3-under 69, but Colin Montgomerie missed the cut despite a better performance in the second round. The Scot signed for a 3-over 75 on Day 1, and though he carded a 2-under 70 on Friday, it was not enough to take him through to the weekend's play.
How Montgomerie would have loved to swap places with young Frenchman Victor Dubuisson. The Nice-born 21-year-old had a terrific 10-birdie 62 to make amends for his opening 73 and surge to 9 under, just three behind Rock.