Turin, Italy – Local favorite Francesco Molinari carded a 5- under 67 on Friday to move into a share of the lead following two rounds of the Italian Open.
The 2006 champion finished 36 holes at Golf Club Torino at 9-under-par 135.
"It adds a little bit of pressure, but it's good, it gives you an extra motivation to do well and get focused for 18 holes," Molinari said about playing in front of his hometown fans. "I said at the beginning of the week I didn't want to think of anything, but try to enjoy the week, try to make some birdies and I'll try to do the same Saturday and Sunday."
Simon Thornton also shot 67 to meet him there, while Felipe Aguilar fired a 6- under 66 to also reach 9-under.
Nicolas Colsaerts, who was one of three overnight co-leaders, managed just a 1-under 71 to sit in a tie with David Higgins (69) and Steve Webster (69) for fourth place at 8-under.
Maximilian Kieffer also held a share of the first-round lead, but carded an even-par 72 to fall into a portion of seventh place at minus-7. He was joined by Marcus Fraser (71).
The final overnight leader, Ricardo Gonzalez, tripped to a 1-over 73 to drop into a group of players tied for ninth at 6-under 138.
Higgins went out with the early wave and countered a lone bogey with four birdies to grab the clubhouse lead at 8-under before any of the overnight leaders took the course.
But Colsaerts was able to meet him there by bouncing back from a bogey at the first with a pair of gains at the second and seventh.
The Belgian then pulled ahead when he opened his inward nine with a birdie at the 10th.
Webster would birdie the 12th, 14th, 17th and first to briefly meet him there before Colsaerts again claimed the outright lead with a birdie at the 12th, moving him to 10-under.
Colsaerts could not hang on to the lead, however, as he bogeyed the 16th to fall into a tie with Webster, Molinari and Thornton.
Molinari had recorded seven birdies around a pair of bogeys through 16 holes to claim his share of the lead, while Thornton had five birdies over 13 holes to reach 9-under.
Aguilar closed his round with his seventh birdie of the day at the ninth to make it a five-way tie for the lead before Webster lost his share of the top spot with a bogey at the eighth.
"It was a fun day," Aguilar said. "I played well and got round a very difficult golf course. I love this golf course because it suits my game which is about accuracy more than distance."
He would not be the only one to fail to hang on to his share of the lead, however, as Colsaerts was the next to drop off the pace with a bogey at the 18th.
Thornton also lost his share of the lead when he bogeyed the 17th, but he bounced back with a birdie at the 18th to move back to the top of the leaderboard.
Molinari, meanwhile, was able to stay at 9-under as parred his final three holes to remain tied with Aguilar heading into the weekend.
"It has been brilliant so far so let's hope it continues to stay that way over the weekend," said Molinari. "You have to embrace it, have fun; I smile on the course when I see people I know and I know they are rooting for me so I just try to enjoy it."
NOTES: Molinari is seeking his fourth career win on the European Tour and first since the 2012 Open de Espana ... The highest ranked player in the field and other local favorite, Matteo Manassero, carded his second straight 70 on Friday to sit in a share of 25th place at 4-under 140 ... Defending champion Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano also shot 70 during his second round to sit six strokes off the pace at 3-under ... Aguilar and Thornton are both trying for their second career victory on the European Tour.