A four under par 68 saw Robert Rock edge into a one shot lead at the halfway stage of the BMW Italian Open presented by CartaSi.
The Englishman, yet to win on The European Tour despite being a runner-up three times, reached 12 under par at Royal Park I Roveri.
That was one clear of compatriot and first round joint-leader Chris Wood and Dutchman Joost Luiten.
“I putted really well yesterday but today I hit a few that came up short of the hole,” Rock said, after a day when one hour and 20 minutes play were lost to bad weather.
“If I am watching it from halfway it’s usually pretty good. I hope I can keep this feel for the next couple of days here and take that into the US Open next week - that would be great. I’m excited about playing the US Open. My long game can handle it, but can my putting stand up to it as well?
“All I can do is work hard and keep practising and hope that a win will eventually happen. Some people manage it straight away and some take a bit of time and I’ve passed 200 tournaments now. I hadn’t attempted to qualify for the US Open before so it’s going to be a great experience going to Congressional next week.”
Wood is also looking for a maiden European Tour victory, having seen his four shot final round lead overhauled by Darren Clarke in Mallorca last month, and carded five birdies and two bogeys in a 69.
“The three of us did well today,” he said, after partnering Rock and Marcus Fraser to a combined halfway total of 30 under par – the Australian acing the fourth.
“I think between us we are 30 under par and Marcus had a hole in one and almost a second. That doesn’t do any harm as you can feed of what other players are doing. It can definitely spark you into doing something.”
Luiten produced an incredible run of four straight birdies from the sixth, and threw in an eagle at the 11th for good measure in his 67.
No fewer than six players are tied for fourth on ten under – including home trio Matteo Manassero, Francesco Molinari and Lorenzo Gagli.
Playing in his home city of Turin, Ryder Cup star Molinari carded a second round 68, and was joined not only by his compatriots but also in-form Frenchman Grégory Bourdy, Welshman Rhys Davies and England’s Gary Boyd.
Former winner Molinari bogeyed the third but responded with a tee shot to eight feet at the par three sixth that led to a birdie and gained another shot at the next when he holed from 20 feet.
That gave the locals plenty to cheer, as did Challenge Tour graduate Gagli’s 66, which included an eagle, five birdies and a solitary bogey on the 15th.
“It's very nice to be back home and seeing friends,” said Molinari. “I had a few busy days but now the focus is totally on the golf.
“I know the course inside out, but I was saying yesterday sometimes that is an advantage and sometimes not. You have memories of the course, some good and some bad, and you have to draw on memories of shots you might have hit ten years ago.”
The 18 year old Manassero started with consecutive birdies, added back-to-back gains from the sixth and played the back nine in level par to put himself in contention for a third European Tour title at the event where he made his professional debut only 12 months ago.
"It’s important to Italian golf to have three players up there near the top, not just Francesco and me but also Lorenzo Gagli," said Manassero. "He has done well and deserves to be in contention too."
Boyd is without a top-ten finish this season but seven birdies in a bogey-free 65 saw him return to the sort of form that helped him finish 50th on last season’s Race to Dubai.
Bourdy came second in Wales last week and was also a runner-up in Malaysia earlier in the season, and he continued to impress with a deft chip within a foot at the eighth leading to one of seven birdies in his 68.
“The key was the end of the round with four birdies,” said the World Number 76. “I made some mistakes but I am right in there. We had to hit a lot of drivers with the wet conditions but you get better control on the soft fairways.”
Davies has quickly built a reputation as one of the best putters on The European Tour, and the former Trophée Hassan II winner showed why by holing three birdie putts in four holes from the second.
“I didn't hit the ball as well as yesterday so I had to scramble a bit more, so in many ways the 68 today was better than the 66 yesterday,” said the 26 year old. “I did a lot of putting when I was younger and I guess I grew up on fairly fast links greens which may have helped and putting in the wind you need a good rhythm so maybe that has something to do with my putting stroke.”