Paul Dunne broke 70 for the 11th time in 14 starts but finds himself seven shots adrift of Marcus Fraser and Matt Wallace at the halfway stage of the $7m Italian Open.
The Greystones star made an eagle and three birdies in a two-under 69 — his 13th sub-par round in a row - to share 27th place on six-under-par at Golf Club Milano near Monza.
While he leads the Irish challenge in the Rolex Series event, he has a lot of players ahead of him as he bids to close the gap on the leaders.
That said, just nine strokes separate first from last after the cut fell at four-under par.
Graeme McDowell didn’t make a bogey in a second successive 69 but only made the weekend on the mark on a day when more than 70 percent of the field broke par.
But there was bad news for Shane Lowry and Pádraig Harrington as they failed to make it.
Lowry birdied his final hole but missed out by two shots on two-under after an even-par 71 while Harrington had too much to do after his opening 73 and failed by four shots despite carding a 69.
Fraser, on the other hand, made no mistakes and fired nine birdies in a career-low 62 to share the lead with England’s Matt Wallace — also bogey-free for a 65 — on 13-under par.
They are two strokes clear of Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Welshman Jamie Donaldson while home favourite and defending champion Francesco Molinari is lurking just one shot further back on ten-under after a 68.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia and last week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship winner Tyrrell Hatton are among the large chasing group on nine-under with world No 5 Jon Rahm just six behind on seven-under after a second round 68.
“I haven't felt like I played all that well for the first two days. Even for me, I felt like I putted unbelievably. Didn't really leave too many out there at all. It's nice when that happens. The greens are great out there, so it's nice when you get a good feel for the speed.
“Been a pretty rough year I suppose, but when you have rounds like that, you know that you're capable of still doing it, and today was a bit of reassurance after being close to packing it in and heading home. It's nice having that cushion of being exempt for next year, but I need to keep progressing and working hard and getting back to the way I know I make.
“I haven't seen a 62 all year, to be honest. It's nice when it felt like it was progressing but haven't felt that comfortable for a long time with my game. Today I took it to a new level with the putter. I felt like I putted well yesterday and probably out-did it today.”
“I really wanted to try and push for the last three events in the top 60, but it was difficult with having less events to do that, as well, and I found it was quite difficult to do that. But we're here this week, and that's still my goal, to try and do that. If I can keep going the way I'm playing this weekend, hopefully, push on and try and secure that spot there.
“Scoring-wise, I probably could be better because I'm playing that good. I've hit it great off the tee. I've hit some really good shots into greens and saved myself a couple of times, not had to do that much, so if I can hole a few more putts, there could be a special number somewhere.
I think what they have done with the course in the short space of time that they have had to do with it is great. Even yesterday afternoon, the greens were in really good shape.
“The putter wasn't quite as warm today as it was yesterday but overall very happy. Hit a lot of good shots, especially towards the end of the round there.
“I couldn't quite get there with a three wood. I had about 285 front, so hit a driver off the deck and came out so perfect. It was nice to get it down there, only two feet from the hole. Yeah, one of my great shots.”
“It's been a while. I was in contention in the middle of the year in Sweden, so it's nice to be back up there and playing good golf, and looking forward to tomorrow.”
“It wasn't easy, but everyone obviously willing me to do well, and I tried to stay calm and stay in my own bubble. I did that pretty well. Things didn't come as easy as yesterday, but I fought well. I hit some good golf shots, and I want to do better tomorrow.
“The course is in great shape, and the weather is going to be perfect for the weekend. There is definitely a low score out there. Obviously, today for me was hard being level par after seven holes, and everyone was getting a little bit impatient. I'm happy with three under par in the end.”
“It's been great so far. Jon, Tommy and I all played nicely. Tommy obviously played much better today than yesterday. Jon probably played a little better yesterday than today. It was a fun couple of days with the top three in the Race to Dubai playing together. I think that not only we enjoyed it, but the people at home and the Italian people here probably had a good time too.
“My game’s been pretty solid. I think my long game is in good shape. My short game feels pretty good. Obviously, it’s a work in progress, and I’m excited to keep working hard at it and keep getting better as the year finishes to make sure that next year as sharp as we can be.”
Italian Open, Golf Club Milano (Par 71)
129 M Wallace (Eng) 64 65, M Fraser (Aus) 67 62,
131 J Donaldson (Wal) 64 67, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 64 67,
132 F Molinari (Ita) 64 68,
133 A Connelly (Can) 68 65, A Björk (Swe) 64 69, T Hatton (Eng) 69 64, S Garcia (Esp) 66 67, E Pepperell (Eng) 64 69,
134 R Fisher (Eng) 68 66, G Coetzee (RSA) 65 69, M Kieffer (Ger) 68 66, A Byeong Hun (Kor) 65 69, D Horsey (Eng) 70 64, F Fritsch (Ger) 67 67, D Fichardt (RSA) 67 67,
135 J Rahm (Esp) 67 68, D Brooks (Eng) 67 68, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 68 67, W Jeunghun (Kor) 68 67, C Paisley (Eng) 66 69, N Bertasio (Ita) 68 67, M Warren (Sco) 66 69, G Havret (Fra) 66 69, R Ramsay (Sco) 67 68,
136 R Sterne (RSA) 70 66, A Noren (Swe) 66 70, B Wiesberger (Aut) 69 67, J Luiten (Ned) 68 68, J Campillo (Esp) 67 69, J Lagergren (Swe) 69 67, L Donald (Eng) 69 67, Paul Dunne (Irl) 67 69, A Cañizares (Esp) 66 70, N Colsaerts (Bel) 68 68, B Rumford (Aus) 71 65,
137 F Aguilar (Chi) 68 69, R Karlsson (Swe) 70 67, A Levy (Fra) 68 69, J Smith (Eng) 70 67, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 68 69, R Bland (Eng) 72 65, T Fleetwood (Eng) 71 66, A Otaegui (Esp) 70 67, D Drysdale (Sco) 67 70, G Bourdy (Fra) 68 69, A Pavan (Ita) 66 71, M Jiménez (Esp) 70 67,
138 T Olesen (Den) 69 69, M Pavon (Fra) 66 72, S Brazel (Aus) 67 71, D Burmester (RSA) 70 68, J Carlsson (Swe) 70 68, L Soomin (Kor) 71 67, Graeme McDowell (Nir) 69 69, J Quesne (Fra) 68 70, R Gouveia (Por) 67 71, L Westwood (Eng) 69 69, N Elvira (Esp) 70 68, D Howell (Eng) 67 71, W Ormsby (Aus) 69 69, C Hanson (Eng) 68 70, B Hebert (Fra) 70 68, E Di Nitto (Ita) 69 69, L Scalise (am) (Ita) 69 69,
139 A Hansen (Den) 70 69, W Ashun (Chn) 72 67, M Southgate (Eng) 70 69, H Porteous (RSA) 70 69, J Scrivener (Aus) 70 69, A Romero (Arg) 70 69, T Detry (Bel) 71 68, R Wattel (Fra) 71 68, T Bjørn (Den) 73 66, D Im (USA) 69 70, M Siem (Ger) 70 69, T Aiken (RSA) 70 69, A Johnston (Eng) 70 69, B Stone (RSA) 67 72, R Rock (Eng) 69 70, L Slattery (Eng) 68 71, N Holman (Aus) 70 69, S Mazzoli (am) (Ita) 67 72,
140 R Paratore (Ita) 68 72, S Gallacher (Sco) 72 68, P Hanson (Swe) 73 67, E De La Riva (Esp) 71 69, L Jensen (Den) 72 68, M Kaymer (Ger) 68 72, Shane Lowry (Irl) 69 71, O Fisher (Eng) 71 69, C Pigem (Esp) 70 70, J Suri (USA) 71 69, E Molinari (Ita) 68 72, A Sullivan (Eng) 69 71,
141 C Shinkwin (Eng) 70 71, P Larrazábal (Esp) 69 72, M Carlsson (Swe) 71 70, B Dredge (Wal) 71 70, D Frittelli (RSA) 69 72, L Bjerregaard (Den) 70 71, L Cianchetti (Ita) 71 70, P Peterson (USA) 74 67,
142 M Ilonen (Fin) 72 70, M Korhonen (Fin) 71 71, J Walters (RSA) 70 72, P Pittayarat (Tha) 70 72, Pádraig Harrington (Irl) 73 69, M Manassero (Ita) 71 71, F Zanotti (Par) 74 68,
143 H Tanihara (Jpn) 72 71, P Waring (Eng) 69 74, N Fasth (Swe) 69 74, R Jacquelin (Fra) 72 71, R Fox (Nzl) 70 73,
144 S Jamieson (Sco) 75 69, G Stal (Fra) 73 71, A Tadini (Ita) 73 71, D Willett (Eng) 73 71, D Lingmerth (Swe) 75 69, J Morrison (Eng) 71 73,
145 T Jaidee (Tha) 72 73, G Storm (Eng) 75 70, A Dodt (Aus) 71 74, A Quiros (Esp) 72 73,
146 F Maccario (Ita) 71 75, S Gros (Fra) 76 70, J Van Zyl (RSA) 70 76,
149 J Olazábal (Esp) 74 75,
152 N Ravano (Ita) 77 75,
** V Dubuisson (Fra) 72 WD