McIlroy beats dark to lead Italian Open

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Rory McIlroy has produced a sprint finish - in more ways than one - to snatch the halfway lead from Ryder Cup teammate Matt Fitzpatrick in the Italian Open.

McIlroy's group of three looked unlikely to complete their second rounds after taking three hours to play nine holes - but they covered the back nine in just two hours 15 minutes before finishing in near-darkness on Friday at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.

Former Open champion Francesco Molinari even ran from the 17th green to the 18th tee to ensure the group avoided an early return to the course on Saturday morning, with play suspended just two minutes later.

McIlroy birdied the 16th and 18th to complete an eventful 66 containing an eagle, six birdies and three bogeys, a halfway total of nine under par giving the world No.2 a one-shot lead over US Open champion Fitzpatrick.

"Probably saved myself about three hours in bed tomorrow after getting done, so happy about that and obviously looking forward to the weekend now," McIlroy said.

"I short-sided myself a couple of times today and was able to play some good shots to get myself out of it and holed the putts afterwards.

"Fitz has had an unbelievable year, winning his first major championship and he's really matured into one of the best players in the world. I'm looking forward to going up against him here over the weekend."

Fitzpatrick had to complete the final three holes of his first round on Friday following Thursday's weather delay and made two birdies and one bogey to complete an opening 65.

The world No.11 then started his second round on the back nine and bogeyed the 10th, but followed that with five straight birdies to open up a four-shot lead.

However, Fitzpatrick dropped shots on the 16th and 17th and made his first par of the day on the 18th, before covering the front nine in level par with two birdies and two bogeys for a 69.

England's Tom Lewis shot a 65 to lie at seven under, while Victor Perez was fourth after a 66.

Lucas Herbert was leading the Australian challenge in joint-fifth on five under after a 67 - but he'll be frustrated that, in the rush to finish in the group ahead of McIlroy before the light went, he hit his approach to the eminently birdieable par-five 18th into the water and bogeyed.

Jason Scrivener is in a tie for 27th on two under after a 70, with Maverick Antcliff a shot further back following his 69.

But Min Woo Lee's 72 wasn't enough for him to make the cut at three over for the tournament.