England's Richard Bland birdied his final three holes for a 6-under 66 and a one-stroke lead Friday after the second round of the Italian Open.
The 39-year-old Bland, winless in 15 seasons on the European Tour, had a 12-under 132 total at Royal Park I Roveri. France's Gregory Bourdy, Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, South Africa's Garth Mulroy and Scotland's Marc Warren were tied for second. Bourdy had a 64, Fernandez-Castano and Warren shot 65, and Mulroy had a 67.
The three European Ryder Cup players in the field had solid rounds. Germany's Martin Kaymer was 8 under after a 66. Italy's Francesco Molinari was 7 under after a 69, and Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts was 6 under after a 67. Italian teenager Matteo Manassero also was 6 under after a 69.
Bland is 126th on the money list, with only the top 115 keeping their tour cards for 2013.
"I've had a tough couple of years, but that's behind me now and I'm just trying to move forward and improve every day," Bland said. "When it wasn't going my way on the front nine, I didn't panic. I knew there were chances out there and it was just a question of waiting. I don't go for the panic button which I might have done five or six years ago.
"There are still 36 holes to go, all it is right now is a great position. There are great players behind me and it's low scoring. I'll probably have to shoot 10 under from here, but that's a good thing. You've got to keep making birdies. You have to keep your foot on the accelerator."