Pieters pinches Girona lead
A sparkling back nine from Belgium's Thomas Pieters saw him sneak into a one-shot lead after round two of the Open de Espana at PGA Catalunya.
Pieters had four bogeys on his front nine, starting from the 10th, but hit back with five birdies on his back nine to sign for a second successive round of 69 and a one-shot lead on six-under.
"I think I'm good enough and it had to show today. I didn't think that six under after two days would be leading but it's a tough course, the rough is really high and the greens are firm enough.
"It's the first time I'm in first position, I'm happy to be here and excited for tomorrow. This is new for me and I just have to deal with it tomorrow. I'll try to stay calm, stay really patient, it's fun.
"I just turned pro in June last year. I know it's been a quick rise but I'd like to take it steady, take one tournament at a time and see where it goes."
Overnight leader Eddie Pepperell had an eagle and a double bogey in his round of 71 to sit one back in a tie for second alongside Joost Luiten who matched the leader's 69.
Holland's Luiten had to shake off a warning for slow play to get to five-under, after his group containing Miguel Angel Jimenez and Francesco Molinari were put on the clock after falling out of position, with Luiten given a first "bad time" for taking too long on his second shot to the seventh.
"I didn't know we were on the clock for two holes to start with and then she (an R&A rules official) came up and said you had a bad time," Luiten told Sky Sports.
"Someone was talking so I had to step out of the shot. It was only one bad time so I knew I could not do it again but I made a nice birdie at the end of that hole so it was okay.
"You have your routine and if you don't have to step out of the shot you are in time so I didn't really worry about it too much."
Molinari is only two shots back on four-under after he recovered from an opening 73 to shoot 67 with six birdies and one bogey - the joint lowest score of the week with his efforts matched by Alvaro Quiros.
The big-hitting Spaniard is now just one shot worse off than Molinari on three-under, alongside England's Richard Bland and Scotland's Richie Ramsey.
Crowd favourite Jimenez slipped down to a tie for eighth with a one-over 73 but is by no means out of it, and he sits alongside Paul Lawrie on two-under-par after the Scotsman completed his second round in level par.
Girona-based golfer Jordi Garcia Pinto is also right in the mix at one-under after a 73, but it could have been even better for the local man had he not bogeyed 17 and 18 but sitting just five shots off the lead is still handily placed.
The likes of Sergio Garcia and Chris Woods join him at one-under, while Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley is on level par after a pair of 72s.
The Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya has been set up to be a test though and it proved too tough for the likes of Pablo Larrazabal (+5), George Coetzee (+6) and Thomas Bjorn (+9) missing the cut, alongside Peter Uihlein who followed a 69 with an 81 to go tumbling out of the event.