Matthew Fitzpatrick, seeking to be a European Tour winner for the fifth straight year, took a step in the right direction when he earned a one-stroke halfway lead over Joachim Hansen at the Italian Open on Friday.
Englishman Fitzpatrick carded six-under-par 65 to edge ahead of Dane Hansen (66) in the second round at Olgiata Golf Club in Rome, while first-round pacesetter Tapio Pulkkanen slipped four back with a pedestrian 72.
The event lost much of its star power, however, when Francesco Molinari, Shane Lowry and Paul Casey missed the cut.
Fitzpatrick said his iron play had clicked into gear early and set the stage for his stellar round.
“I figured out something with my irons after the second hole," he said. "I only missed one green after that".