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Italy's Molinari grabs lead at weather-hit PGA event

© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File | Francesco Molinari of Italy tosses a ball on the tenth green during round two of the Wells Fargo Championship at Eagle Point Golf Club on May 5, 2017 in Wilmington, North Carolina

WASHINGTON (AFP) - 

Italy's Francesco Molinari completed a second-round level par 72 Saturday morning to grab a one-stroke lead at the weather-hit US PGA Wells Fargo Championship.

Molinari was among 68 players still on the course when darkness halted play Friday at Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, North Carolina. The field teed off three hours late Friday after an overnight storm dropped more than an inch of rain.

Molinari, who began on the back nine, had been one-over for the round after 11 holes in windy weather Friday, leaving him level with clubhouse leaders Seamus Power of Ireland and Billy Hurley of the United States when play resumed.

After sinking a 10-foot par putt at the par-3 fifth hole, Molinari put his approach at the par-5 sixth two feet from the cup to set up a birdie and at the par-4 eighth his approach landed inches from the hole to set up another birdie.

But the Italian rolled a seven-foot par attempt past the cup at the par-4 ninth and his closing bogey left him on six-under 138 for 36 holes, one stroke ahead of Power, Hurley and American John Peterson.

Power posted a 71 Friday while Hurley carded a 69.

Peterson completed the last six holes of his second-round 69 on Saturday. He took a bogey at 16, missing the green with his approach and the cup with a seven-foot par putt, but closed with a birdie, sinking a 16-foot birdie putt at the par-5 18th to join the second-place pack.

World number one Dustin Johnson, playing his first tournament since pulling out of the Masters with a back injury suffered in a fall, completed the last five holes of a second-round 75 to stand seven shots adrift on 145.

After starting two-over for 13 holes Friday, the reigning US Open champion sank a 24-foot birdie putt at the par-3 15th but followed with bogeys at 16 and 17 before closing his Saturday morning effort with a par, still among 79 to make the cut.

© 2017 AFP