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Molinari maintains advantage in Portugal

  • Story Highlights
  • Italian Francesco Molinari maintains his advantage in the Portugal Masters
  • Molinari cards a six-under-par 66 to lie one stroke clear of Charl Schwartzel
  • Padraig Harrington shoots a superb 10-under-par 62 to lie a further shot behind
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(CNN) -- First round leader Francesco Molinari of Italy maintained his advantage after 36 holes of the Portugal Masters at Vilamoura on Friday, but triple Major winner Padraig Harrington of is waiting to pounce after a superb second round.

Italian Molinari continues to lead the way after the second round of the Portugal Masters.

Italian Molinari continues to lead the way after the second round of the Portugal Masters.

Molinari added a 66 to his opening 63 to reach 15-under-par, the lowest halfway total of the European Tour season so far.

South African Charl Schwartzel posted a 65 to lie a stroke behind in second place with Harrington a further shot back after carding a brilliant 10-under-par 62 to keep alive his Race to Dubai hopes.

The 38-year-old Irishman had a putt on the last to lower his all-time best round on The European Tour, but mis-hit it from 18 feet.

"Pity I didn't give it a better run," he told reporters. "I played the tough holes really well and that gave me the opportunity to shoot a really good score. It could even have been the magic number."

Molinari said he has an extra reason for wanting to shine this week, to open the gap again between himself and his older brother Edoardo in the world rankings.

Edoardo, the U.S. Amateur champion in 2005, is top of The Challenge Tour and has improved to 112th. Francesco is currently 70th overall.

"I need to play well or he will overtake me," said the 26-year-old. "I'm trying to keep up with him, but it is pretty difficult because he is either winning or finishing second every week."

Schwartzel had a hat-trick of birdies from the 15th, but then came a closing bogey for a second successive round of 65.

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