Tommy Fleetwood boosts hopes of maiden PGA Tour win at Bay Hill

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Tommy Fleetwood took advantage of the par-five holes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in spectacular fashion to move into a share of the halfway lead at Bay Hill.

The Englishman boosted his hopes of winning his maiden title on the PGA Tour this weekend with a second round 66 on Friday, taking him to nine under par overall alongside Keegan Bradley.

Fleetwood found succour on the four long holes on the course, picking up six shots, with birdies at the fourth and 16th sandwiching eagles at the sixth and 12th following spectacular approach shots.

He told the PGA Tour website: “Funnily enough when I came off yesterday and I was in the truck with my trainer, just warming down for the day, he asked how my play was and I said ‘I could have played the par-fives better’.

“I was level-par with them yesterday. Today I made a much better job of those and you have to.

“On some courses, if you can score on the par-fives, you can shoot a good score, and that’s basically where I made up all my numbers.”

Fleetwood, who topped the European Tour order of merit in 2017, collected further birdies at the fifth and eighth to offset bogeys at the second and 10th in an eventful round.

While he and Bradley are now four shots clear of the rest of the field, Fleetwood admitted his form around the greens had kept him from dropping out of contention after carding a three under 69 in his opening round.

He added: “I’m leading the tournament now but yesterday, through the first 10 holes, I could have easily been out of the tournament as I was struggling.

“But the short game keeps you in and then all of a sudden you play some good golf and you can build some momentum.

“There’s not a golfer in the top five, top 10, top 20 in the world that doesn’t have one of the best short games going, so it’s pretty important.”

Bradley, the 2011 US PGA champion, made six birdies and two bogeys in his 68 to draw level alongside Fleetwood in Florida.

Fleetwood’s Ryder Cup partner Francesco Molinari is among six players on five under while English trio Eddie Pepperell, Matt Wallace and Matthew Fitzpatrick are a shot further back.

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, however, tumbled down the leaderboard after following up his opening 68 with a second-round 75 to sit on one under ahead of the weekend.

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