Retief Goosen (Getty Images)
Former European Number One Retief Goosen continued to impress on his return from a four-month injury lay-off as fellow veteran José María Olazábal moved into contention for a first win since 2005 in the 70° Open d’Italia Lindt.
Two-time US Open Champion Goosen withdrew from the Players Championship at Sawgrass in May with a back injury, which turned out to be a stress fracture.
The 44 year old admitted he had no idea where the ball was going to go ahead of his competitive return, revealing he lost four balls in a practice round on Tuesday.
But after exceeding his own expectations with an opening round of 70, the South African added a second round of 72 in Turin to finish two under par and safely make the halfway cut.
Former Ryder Cup Captain Olazábal, whose last European Tour win came in the Mallorca Classic eight years ago, was faring even better after adding a 68 to his opening 71.
The 47 year old said: "Yesterday was a battling day, I didn't hit the ball well at all and just managed to get my way in with a decent score. Today I hit the ball a little better. I still made a few mistakes but it was a better day."
Overnight leaders Ricardo Gonzalez, Nicolas Colsaerts and Max Kieffer had yet to be overtaken after seven under rounds of 65 on Thursday, with Olazábal adding: "The pin positions were pretty similar, very close to the corners. I think the greens were a little firmer today, we realised early in the round the ball was bouncing forward and that is something that didn't happen yesterday.
"The greens were softer yesterday and you could attack the flags knowing the ball was going to stop. That's the reason the scoring is maybe not as good as yesterday."
Former Open Champion David Duval was set to miss the halfway cut despite improving by five shots on his opening 75.
Duval started on the back nine and birdied the tenth, 12th and 14th to get back to level par and was on course to qualify for the final two rounds when he also birdied the first.
However, the 41 year old dropped shots at the third and sixth and had to settle for a 70 that left him one over par, two shots outside the projected cut.
South African Hennie Otto, France's Julien Quesne and England's Seve Benson had set the clubhouse target on six under.