ORLANDO – Tommy Fleetwood carded two eagles to help give him a share of the lead with Keegan Bradley after the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Friday.
Fleetwood fired a 6-under-par 66, following an eagle at the par-5 sixth with another on the par-5 12th, where the Englishman smashed a 277-yard approach with a 7-wood to within 7 feet.
Fleetwood and Bradley are tied at 9-under 135, four shots clear of a six-man pack tied for third.
“Yesterday … I could have played the par-5s better. I was level par for them yesterday,” Fleetwood told reporters after Friday’s round. “Today, I made a much better job of those. On some courses, if you can score on the par-5s, you have to shoot a good score. And that is basically where I made my numbers today.”
Fleetwood, 28, is 14th in the world rankings and has four European Tour victories, but he is looking for his first victory on the PGA Tour.
“I’ve done a lot of good things over the last two, three years, so, yeah, I think that’s pretty clear in our minds that that would be the next logical step to win in America or win on the PGA Tour and then see where we go from there,” he said.
Billy Horschel, Keith Mitchell, Kevin Kisner, Italy’s Francesco Molinari, Canada’s Roger Sloan and Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas are at 5 under.
Bradley backed up his opening-round 67 with a 68 on Friday. He has positive experience at Bay Hill, with a runner-up finish in 2014 a year after tying for third.
“There’s a lot of really quality holes you have to hit good iron shots, and that’s sort of the strength of my game,” Bradley told The Golf Channel. “These past two days, I’ve had the putter rolling, and that just makes all the difference. … Today, I hit the ball good and putted even better, so that’s a good combo.”
The first-round leader, Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello, followed his opening-round 65 with a 3-over 75 that included five bogeys — including four in his final five holes. He dropped into an eight-way tie for ninth at 4 under, joining Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed, among others.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland is tied for 31st at 2 under.
Rickie Fowler posted a double bogey at No. 6 but ran off four birdies and no bogeys the rest of the way to make his 16th consecutive cut by one stroke at 1 over.
Phil Mickelson, the 1997 champion who is playing this event for the first time since 2013, had two double bogeys Friday on his way to a 6-over 78, hitting one drive out of bounds and another into the water. He missed the cut by a stroke despite posting a first-round 68.
He said afterward he will play nine holes at TPC Sawgrass on Tuesday before deciding whether to play later in the week at The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Mickelson has stated the Stadium Course doesn’t suit his game.
Three-time major winner Brooks Koepka, ranked third in the world, also missed the cut with a two-round total of 3 over. He shot 73 on Friday.
Tiger Woods, an eight-time winner of the event, is not in the field this week after withdrawing due to a neck strain.
–Field Level Media