Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano carded a brilliant seven-under-par round of 65 to move to the top of the leaderboard in the second round of the Italian Open at Royal Park.
The Spaniard, winner of five European Tour titles and fifth at last week’s KLM Dutch Open, recorded eight birdies and one bogey to join Gregory Bourdy in the lead.
The duo are 11 under par and Fernandez-Castano is now the 7/1 favourite with bookmaker Paddy Power
to lift the trophy in Turin on Sunday.
Fernandez-Castano admitted he was relieved to have the pressure of the Ryder Cup race over having narrowly missed out on a place in José María Olazábal’s side.
“I've been playing nicely lately even though the results haven't really shown that,” said the player known as 'Gonzo'.
“I had the Ryder Cup pressure before and I knew my game was there but I didn't play great. Going back to Hilversum (for the KLM Open) where I won in 2005 brought good feelings back. I didn't play well last Sunday but I know my game is in a good position.”
Bourdy went one better in his second round, shooting 64, and is the 9/1 second favourite with Paddy Power
Next in the betting at 10/1 is Ryder Cup team member Martin Kaymer, who gave another indication that his form is returning by compiling a 66 to be three behind the leading duo.
Also within striking distance at the halfway stage are local hero Francesco Molinari, four off the pace, and Pablo Larrazabal who is just two behind Fernandez-Castano and Bourdy.