American Peter Uihlein narrowed the gap on overnight leader Raymond Russell with a four under par 66 in the second round of the Doubletree by Hilton Acaya Open.
After a level par 70 in the first round, Uihlein, the former amateur world number one, had five birdies and a bogey to move to within a shot of Scotsman Russell, who was among the afternoon starters at Acaya Golf Resort in southern Italy.
It was also a productive day for Irishman Colm Moriarty and Spaniard Eduardo De La Riva, who both reached one under par with rounds of 67 and 68 respectively.
But Uihlein’s round was the pick of the morning session, and the 22 year old, who is relying on sponsors’ invitations in his first season as a professional, was pleased with his progress.
“It was a pretty stress-free round,” said Uihlein, the 2010 US Amateur Champion. “It was a little easier than yesterday because the wind has died down, and I had plenty of opportunities because I was hitting it so well.
“It’s a case of staying patient on this course and not trying to force it. I’m pleased with the way I’m playing so hopefully it will be a good week. If I finish in the top ten I’ll play in the English Challenge, otherwise I’ve got an invite to Austria (the Lyoness Open Powered by Greenfinity).
“Travelling is a lot of fun and I’m enjoying my first season in Europe. Seeing different places and hearing different languages is all part of the experience. My parents live in Boston which is only a six-hour flight to London Heathrow, so I’ve been commuting from the States and it’s working well so far.”
Moriarty had five birdies and two bogeys in his round, and has his girlfriend as his caddie for the first time.
He said: “I played really nicely today. It was a little easier today with the wind not being as strong. I played well yesterday too and was pretty happy with two over par in those conditions.
“My game has been good for a while now but I haven’t been scoring well. This week I’ve got my girlfriend as my caddie and I’m just trying to enjoy it and stay relaxed. She was on the bag for me in Open qualifying a couple of weeks ago but this is the first time out on Tour. She’s done well so far.”