England's Matt Wallace and Australia's Marcus Fraser are joint leaders on 13 under going into the weekend of the Italian Open.
Last year's victor Francesco Molinari is seven under par alongside Jamie Donaldson, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Alexander Bjork, Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia and last week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship victor Tyrrell Hatton were among five players tied for sixth four strokes back.
Fraser began the day three shots behind the six players in a tie for the lead after Thursday's 67 but soon set about closing the gap.
Francesco Molinari's hopes of defending his Italian Open title at Golf Club Milano remain on track after the local hero added a 3-under-par 34-34=68 to his opening 64 to reach 10-under 132 at the 36-hole mark.
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Three-time European Tour victor Fraser, who was 136th in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex at the start of the week, was delighted with his performance on the greens.
Fraser, who put together a streak of five successive birdies between holes eight and 12, told EuropeanTour.com: "I felt like I've putted well and scrambled well this week".
He finished his front nine in style, chipping in for a birdie at the 18th to get to five under before picking up further shots at the first and second. "It was nice to get it down there, only two feet from the hole". "Today I took it to a new level with the putter". Things didn't come as easy as yesterday but I fought well.
"I started pretty much where I left off a year ago", Molinari said. It's not that rare - I have done it before. "I hit some good golf shots and I want to do better tomorrow".