After two rounds of the Italian Open 2013, Felipe Aguilar, Francesco Molinari and Simon Thornton are tied for the lead at nine-under. However, there are 12 golfers within three strokes or less of the leaders, meaning that the next two rounds will be full of intrigue and drama.
Which golfers have the best chance to win? Read on to find out.
Obviously, Aguilar, Molinari and Thornton have the best chances of winning.
Aguilar shot a 66 today, after a first round 69. The Chilean golfer dominated the circuit in his home country, but is now looking for his second career European Tour win. He's strung together two good rounds in a row, which bodes well for him, but he does have a history of choking a bit. In the 2008 Astro Indonesian Open, he bogeyed the last hole, and won only because his challenger double-bogeyed the hole.
With so many golfers breathing down his neck, he won't get so lucky. He needs to be perfect to hold on.
Francesco Molinari is also nine-under and finished the second round with an impressive 67. He last won in May of 2012, when he was victorious at the Open de Espana.
That said, Molinari has a lot of experience, including representing Europe at the Ryder Cup twice, most recently in 2012 where he halved with Tiger Woods in the last singles match of the tournament. His experience gives him a leg up as he tries to fight off a number of talented golfers.
Also tied for the lead is Simon Thornton, who shot a 67 in the second round. Thornton won the Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open in June, which was his first European Tour victory. Thornton has been pretty consistent thus far this tournament, so the key for him, besides keeping that up, is hoping that either Molinari or Aguilar choke.
The biggest question is which Nicolas Colsaerts is going to show up. Is it the one who shot a 65 in the first round? Or will it be the one who shot a 71 in the second round? If it's the former, then Colsaerts has an excellent chance of winning. If not, then he'll easily slide back.
That said, Colsaerts has shown flashes of greatness. He entered the final round of the 2012 U.S. Open just three shots back from the lead before faltering, and then finished tied for 10th this year at Merion. In addition, he finished tied for seventh at the 2012 British Open. He may be the most talented golfer in this field, but he has to bring it on a more consistent basis if he wants to win not only this tournament but advance in the PGA Tour hierarchy.
The same thing goes for Maximilian Kieffer, who shot a 65 in the first round and then followed that up with a 72 in the second. Like Colsaerts, it's not a question of talent with Kieffer, but a matter of consistency. At just two strokes back, he's certainly not out of contention and two solid rounds in a row could easily place him at the top.
A final golfer to pay attention to is Alejandro Canizares, who sits three strokes back. He has to make up some ground, but after shooting a 71 in the first round he shot an impressive 67 in the second. If that dramatic improvement is not just a fluke, then Canizares could be a factor.