Matt Fitzpatrick remains among Bay Hill leaders at halfway stage

Matt Fitzpatrick acknowledges the crowd after making a putt during the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando (Picture: Phelan M Ebenhack/AP).
Matt Fitzpatrick acknowledges the crowd after making a putt during the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando (Picture: Phelan M Ebenhack/AP).
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SHEFFIELD’S Matt Fitzpatrick remained firmly in contention to add a first PGA Tour title to his impressive CV on day two of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Fitzpatrick shared the overnight lead at Bay Hill and added a second round of 69 to his opening 67 to reach halfway at eight under par, two behind clubhouse leader Charley Hoffman.

Paul Casey was four shots further back after a 72, with world No 3 Rory McIlroy on course to make the halfway cut after adding a 71 to his opening 74 and fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell one under par after also shooting 71.

Fitzpatrick was the leading amateur in the 2013 Open at Muirfield and won the US Amateur title a month later, before making a successful transition to the paid ranks in 2014.

Victory in November’s DP World Tour Championship came two years to the day since he gained his card via the qualifying school and saw Fitzpatrick eclipse Nick Faldo’s record as the youngest Englishman to win three times on the European Tour.

It also gave him the security of a five-year exemption on the European Tour and a PGA Tour card is the next goal for the world No 30, who carded five birdies and two bogeys in his 69.

Fitzpatrick, who was seventh in the Masters last year and made his Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine, followed a birdie on the second with his first bogey of the week on the fourth, before adding four birdies and a bogey on the back nine.

Fitzpatrick said: “Everything’s coming together slowly. I’m going to do a little bit of work (after his round), just got to keep on top of things going into the weekend and hopefully push on.

“The Masters is three weeks away now and hopefully I can keep this form going into it. Everyone tries to peak around there.”