Lorenzo Gagli, Thomas Björn and Kenneth Ferrie shared the clubhouse lead midway through day two of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
With overnight leader Mark Foster, who is six under par, not scheduled to tee off until 2.10pm, Gagli, who completed his first round 69 this morning, continued his good form with a second round 68 after birdies on the second, fourth, sixth and eighth.
“I played very good these two days, and I'm very happy with that,” Gagli said.
The Italian held the lead for some time before former Ryder Cup player and vice-captain Björn shot a 69 to join him on seven under after overcoming a bogey on the 15th with four birdies. The Dane, who started on the 10th, could have gone one shot ahead but his birdie attempt on the last hole - the long ninth - dribbled past the edge of the cup.
“I'm just happy with my score at the moment, and that leaves me in a good state or the weekend, and that's all I'm concentrating on,” Bjorn said.
Ferrie, who was four under yesterday, made four birdies and, despite bogies on the 10th and 17th, a birdie on the 18th saw him move joint top.
“I've been playing pretty well all year, hitting lots of good shots and hitting the greens and not making lots of putts,” Ferrie said.
“I swapped to the belly putter a couple of weeks ago and it's paid off. I've holed my fair of 4 and 5 footers which I've been struggling with and that's been the marked improvement this week.”
Two months ago Pablo Larrazábal beat Spanish compatriot Sergio Garcia in a play-off for the BMW International Open - an event Foster led after three rounds - and he followed his 70 with a birdie on the short 10th and then three more in a row from the 14th. However, bogies on the first and fifth saw him slip to one shot off the lead following a second round 68.
Englishman James Morrison overcame a bogey on the second to shoot four birdies and move to six under par with two holes of his second round to go.
Ireland’s Peter Lawrie eagled the second to move six under, while Sweden’s Magnus Carlsson, after 13 holes, shot five under yesterday and, despite four bogies today, made five birdies to move to within shot of the lead.
Englishman Oliver Wilson, nine times a runner-up on the European Tour without ever winning, birdied three of his first five holes and, although he made a bogey on the 14th, a birdie on the 17th saw him finish five under par.
Alongside Wilson is Scotland’s Marc Warren, who carded six birdies in his second round 69, while America’s Anthony Kang shot a six birdies in an impressive second round of 66.
Raphael Jacquelin had a mixed round, making two bogies and two birdies in his first nine, before an eagle, two birdies and two bogies in his back nine saw him to five under par.
Thongchai Jaidee, from Chile, moved to four under par, while Scotland’s Richie Ramsay slipped to three under par after bogies on the second, third and 15th.
After making par on his first eight holes and a birdie on his ninth, Colin Montgomerie shot bogies on the first, third and fifth to slide to one under.
Argentina’s Tano Goya, who had shared the lead this morning after a birdie the second, soon fell away after shooting a six on the four par third and seven on the five par ninth.
José Maria Olazábal, Montgomerie’s successor as Ryder Cup Captain, missed the cut after finishing four shots over par following a second round 74.