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Rory takes charge

ROME (AFP) — As the sun went down at the Italian Open on Friday, Rory McIlroy jumped to the top of the leaderboard, finishing his second round with a last-hole birdie after play had been called off.

Northern Irishman McIlroy was on the 18th green in fading light as the hooter sounded to signal play had been suspended.

He decided to complete the hole and sank his birdie putt. He had also picked up a shot on the 16th in a five-under-par round of 66.

US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick started the day completing a six-under-par first round to take the lead.

The Englishman opened his second round on the back nine and made five straight birdies starting at the 11th but made bogeys at the seventh and eighth to slip a shot back

With a handful of players due to complete their rounds on Saturday morning, Englishman Tom Lewis was one shot back in third with Frenchman Victor Perez a further stroke behind in fourth.

There were half a dozen players on five under, including European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald.

McIlroy improved by one shot on his first round.

“I played a little bit better today, especially on the back nine. I took advantage of some of the more birdieable holes,” he said.

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