American Charley Hoffman shot a 6-under 66 on Friday to take a 1-stroke lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the halfway point.
Just 1-over par through four holes, racked up seven birdies over the final 14 holes to slip past Argentina’s Emilliano Grillo for the outright lead. Hoffman, 40, is in pursuit of his fifth PGA win. He won the Valero Texas Open last April.
Grillo lost the lead despite eagles on No. 12 and No. 16. He shot even par through the first 11 holes, hindered by bogeys on No. 2 and No. 8.
Matthew Fitzpatrick fell from first to third with his 3-under 69. He was 1-over at the turn, but had four birdies between holes 10 and 17. Fitzpatrick is looking for his first PGA win after taking three titles on the European Tour.
Six other players are within five shots of the lead with 36 holes to play.
In his return to action, former No. 1 Jason Day shot a 1-under 71 to move to 3-under for the tournament, tying him for 13th place.
No. 3 Rory McIlroy also shot a 71 to begin making up for his opening-round 74, and rose 12 spots to a tie for 46 at 1-over.
The red-hot Henrik Stenson cooled off considerably, shooting a 74 to miss the cut, which was set at 3-over. Also missing it was American Cody Gribble who went viral on Friday when he walked to the edge of a lake on the course and smacked an alligator on the tail, sending the surprised animal scurrying into the water.
“I didn’t even realize it was on video,” said Gribble, who shot 5-over 77 in Round 1 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. “Gator looked like he needed some exercise, I don’t know. He was sitting right there in the way and I guess I was struggling today, I wanted to get some adrenaline going somehow.”
“It’s probably frowned upon but I wasn’t too worried about it at the time,” Gribble said. “It’s like a jolt, it’s quick, you know, they’re not going to catch you a couple steps down.”