|-9 C Conners (Can); -8 M Laird (Sco); –7 V Hovland (Nor), R McIlroy (NI), L Griffin (US); -6 B DeChambeau (US); -5 P Casey (Eng), Sungjae Im (Kor), J Rose (Eng), J Spieth (US)|
|Selected others: -4 L Westwood (Eng), M Fitzpatrick (Eng), T Fleetwood (Eng); -2 R MacIntyre (Sco); -1 I Poulter (Eng); Level: P Harrington (Ire), T Hatton (Eng), D Willett (Eng); +1 R Knox (Sco)|
Former winner Martin Laird performed his manner into competition alongside Rory McIlroy on the midway stage of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
The Scotsman, champion in 2011, shot a five-under 69 which included an eagle on the 12th for an eight-under complete.
Laird, the world quantity 93, is one shot off the lead held by Corey Conners of Canada and one forward of McIlroy.
Northern Ireland’s McIlroy adopted his opening 66 – which noticed him share the lead with Conners – with an erratic 71.
Laird and McIlroy are a part of a high-class leaderboard in Orlando, with in-form Norwegian Viktor Hovland additionally on seven underneath and US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau of the United States a shot additional again.
England’s Paul Casey and Justin Rose are in a gaggle at 5 underneath, 4 off the lead, with resurgent American Jordan Spieth and Sungjae Im of South Korea.
Three extra Englishmen – Lee Westwood, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood – are a stroke additional again on 4 underneath.
“Today was a bit more of a battle but I stayed patient,” McIlroy mentioned. “I picked off three of the par fives, which is good around here. When I put it in trouble I got it out of trouble.
“I hit a number of higher pictures coming down the stretch, however I’m simply going to go and work on a pair issues now on the vary. It might have been the spherical that I might have shot 74 or 75, however I received in with 71 and I’m fairly proud of that.”
Laird came into the event on the back of three straight missed cuts but is relishing being back on the scene of his biggest victory.
“When I come again I’ve good reminiscences of 2011, however I’ve simply at all times appreciated the golf course – a whole lot of tee pictures swimsuit my eye,” he mentioned.
“The greens usually are fairly agency right here and I hit it excessive, in order that helps too. It’s a enjoyable place to come back to.”
Conners, whose sole PGA Tour title came in the Valero Texas Open in 2019, carded a 69 which featured an eagle on the par-five 16th for the second day running.
“I have not actually been on this place quite a bit, however I’ve a whole lot of confidence in my sport and have been feeling actually relaxed the previous couple of days, so I wish to try to hold that going,” he mentioned.
“I really feel like I’ve a whole lot of vitality and am actually excited for the weekend.”