Surrey, England – Francesco Molinari battled through the rain on Friday to post a 4-under 68 and jump into the top spot at the BMW PGA Championship.
Molinari finished 36 holes at Wentworth Club at 6-under-par 138.
"Six-under is a good score given the conditions -- I live over here now so I am used to it -- and I'm in a great position going into the weekend, but it's a really tough course so anyone six or seven behind is still in it," stated Molinari.
His 68 tied the low score for the day as the weather made low scoring difficult. Wen-chong Liang was the only other player to match Molinari's mark, moving him to 1-under-par 143 for the tournament and into a tie for 20th place.
Molinari is immediately trailed by Mark Foster (69), Alejandro Canizares (70), Marc Warren (70) and George Coetzee (70) at 5-under, while Eddie Pepperell (69) and Matteo Manassero (71) sit two strokes off the pace at minus-4.
World No. 2 Rory McIlroy (75) posted his second straight round over par to highlight a group of marquee players participating in the European Tour's signature event who did not make the cut.
Other players ranked inside the top 20 in the world rankings that did not advance to the weekend were Graeme McDowell (75), Ian Poulter (76) and defending champion Luke Donald (72).
The entire field was originally scheduled to start on the 10th tee on Friday, but Thursday's first round was suspended by darkness after a 90-minute weather delay earlier in the day and was completed Friday, causing everyone to again tee off at the first hole as 15 players finished their first round.
Molinari stumbled out the gate with a bogey at the first, but quickly recovered with back-to-back birdies at the third and fourth to move to 3-under for the tournament.
He then traded a birdie at the eighth with a bogey at the 10th to remain there before rolling in three birdies over a 4-hole stretch from the 11th to reach 6-under.
After a bogey at the 16th dropped him from the top of the leaderboard, the 30- year-old Italian closed with a 20-foot birdie putt at the last to regain his first-place position.
"I'm really happy with yesterday and today," said Molinari. "The conditions were quite tough, but I hit the ball well and the putter is working well so I am really happy at the moment."
Foster traded a pair of bogeys with five birdies to move into a share of second place, while Warren and Canizares also bogeyed twice, but could manage just four birdies on the day.
Coetzee had three birdies and a single bogey during his second round.
First-round leader James Kingston struggled to a 5-over 77 on Friday to fall to 1-under for the tournament and into a tie for 21st place.
NOTES: Molinari is seeking his third career win on the European Tour ... All but one of Europe's victorious Ryder Cup team from last year are in the field for this event ... The cut line was set at 2-over-par 146, with 71 players advancing to the weekend ... Miguel Angel Jimenez is making his 600th career European Tour appearance at this event. He is currently tied for 39th at 1- over following a 3-under 69 on Friday.