Belgium's Thomas Pieters leads the Open de Espana at PGA Catalunya after an impressive back nine saw him sneak into a one-shot lead.

Pieters carded four bogeys on his front nine after beginning his round on the 10th holes. But he hit five birdies on his back nine to complete a second successive round of 69 and leads by one-shot on six-under.

The 22-year old is excited going into the weekend occupying a position he hasn't previously.

"I think I'm good enough and it had to show today. I didn't think that six under after two days would be leading but it's a tough course, the rough is really high and the greens are firm enough," he said.

"It's the first time I'm in first position, I'm happy to be here and excited for tomorrow. This is new for me and I just have to deal with it tomorrow. I'll try to stay calm, stay really patient, it's fun.

"I just turned pro in June last year. I know it's been a quick rise but I'd like to take it steady, take one tournament at a time and see where it goes."

England's Eddie Pepperell was the overnight leader but could only record a one-under par 71 after an eagle and a double bogey during his second round to sit in a tie of second place.

The golfer from Oxford admits he expected to be caught by the chasing pack but could take some positives from his round.

"The game’s been pretty good for two days and five under puts me in a really nice spot for the weekend," said Pepperell, who finished 76th on the Race to Dubai in his rookie season last year.

"I expect to be caught today but I’m not too worried, if I keep doing what I’m doing I hope to have a shot at it come Sunday afternoon."

He added: "It was a great start and I hit some really nice shots early. I had three 10-footers for birdie, birdie and eagle and I holed them all. But it was an up and down day for me. I hit some good shots in the early part of the round, but there were also some poor ones."

Joining Pepperell in a tie for second is Joost Luiten from the Netherlands, who equalled Pieter's round of 69.

Luiten had earlier been warned for slow play after his group consisting of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Francesco Molinari had been put on the clock after falling out of position. Luiten had been cautioned for taking too long on his second shot to the seventh.

 "I didn't know we were on the clock for two holes to start with and then she (an R&A rules official) came up and said you had a bad time," Luiten told Sky Sports.

"Someone was talking so I had to step out of the shot. It was only one bad time so I knew I could not do it again but I made a nice birdie at the end of that hole so it was okay.

"You have your routine and if you don't have to step out of the shot you are in time so I didn't really worry about it too much."

Molinari is just two shots behind the leader on four-under after an impressive second round of 67 to match his opening 67. Six birdies and one bogey during Friday was the joint-lowest score of of the week, matching Alvaro Quiros' second round.

Quiros is just one shot behind Molinari on three-under, joint with England's Richard Bland and Scotland's Richie Ramsey.

Spain's Jimenez is in a tie for eighth with a one-over 73 on Friday and is tied with Scotland's Paul Lawrie on two-under par for the tournament.

Jordi Garcia Pinto, playing in his hometown of Girona, is still in contention at one-under for the tournament but will be ruing bogeying the 17th and 18th holes.

He is joined by pre-tournament favourite Sergio Garcia and Chris Woods on one-under with Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley a shot further back on level par.

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