Barcelona, Spain (SportsNetwork.com) - Edouard Espana carded a 3-under 69 in Friday's second round and moved one stroke clear of the field at the Open de Espana.
Espana, who hails from France, ended 36 holes at 7-under-par 137. His best finish this season was a tie for 35th at the Dubai Desert Classic.
Ricardo Gonzalez shot 69 at Real Club de Golf El Prat for the second round in a row and moved into second place at minus-6. Darren Fichardt (73) and Michael Hoey (68) share third at 5-under-par 139.
David Howell also posted a 69 to grab a piece of fifth place at minus-4. He was joined there by Emiliano Grillo (70) and Paul Maddy (70). Francesco Molinari (69) is one of five players tied for eighth at 3-under-par 141.
First-round leader Trevor Fisher, Jr. struggled in the windy conditions as he shot 6-over 78 to fall into a share of 16th at minus-1.
Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez is one of 11 players tied with Fisher. Jimenez had a hole-in-one on the par-3 eighth en route to carding a 71.
Sergio Garcia, the 2002 winner, mixed four bogeys and four birdies in a round of 72. He is tied for 54th at 3-over-par 147.
Espana, who is winless on the European Tour, birdied the second, but gave that shot right back with a bogey at the third. After a trio of pars, he moved to 5-under with a birdie at the par-5 seventh.
The 25-year-old ran off six straight pars from the eighth. Espana poured in a 40-footer for birdie at the 14th and made it two in a row with a tap-in birdie on No. 15. He closed his round with three straight pars.
"The level of tournaments is high on tour so it's (been) difficult, but I will try and keep going," said Espana, who has missed the cut in four of his nine starts this season. "I played really well today. Because it's very windy, I played really good and I'm really happy."
Gonzalez opened with his second birdie in two days at the first. He converted another birdie try on No. 3. He parred three in a row before a birdie at the seventh got him to minus-6.
The Argentine picked up another birdie at the ninth. Another gain at the 12th moved Gonzalez to 8-under, where he led by one.
However, Gonzalez tripped to a bogey at 16 and a double-bogey at 17 to slide back to minus-5. He got one back thanks a birdie at 18.
"I'm happy with my game, two rounds of 69 in these windy conditions is a great score," Gonzalez said. "I would prefer to have it playing tough over the weekend because it is an advantage for the longer hitters and those who are striking the ball well. I find myself in that category this week."
NOTES: Espana had back-to-back under-par rounds just once this season before this week, and that came in Dubai, where he had three straight 70s to start the event ... Jimenez's hole-in-one was his second of the season, and ninth of his career, on the European Tour, and that tied Colin Montgomerie's tour record ... The Spaniard was awarded 288 bottles of beer for the ace ... The cut line fell at 4-over-par 148 with 72 players moving on to the weekend ... Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Alvaro Quiros, Nicolas Colsaerts, Eduardo Molinari, Thomas Bjorn and Thorbjorn Olesen were among those that missed the cut.