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.
Englishman 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 number three Rory McIlroy on course to make the halfway cut after adding a 71 to his opening 74.
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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.
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 number 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.
McIlroy bogeyed his first two holes after a wild tee shot on the 10th and another errant drive on the next, but bounced back with a birdie on the 12th and an eagle on the 16th.
He had been unhappy with his approach to the par five, but holed from 30 feet to get under par for the day.
The 27-year-old promptly found water with his tee shot on the 17th to give both shots back, before completing an eventful nine holes with a birdie on the 18th.
The front nine was a more sedate affair as McIlroy recorded a solitary birdie and eight pars.