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Jason Day WD's from Arnold Palmer Invitational with back injury

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Arnold Palmer Invitational: $9.1M purse up for grabs after Tiger Woods injury

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood (66) and former major victor Keegan Bradley (68) share the 36-hole lead at nine under - four strokes ahead of a five-way tie for third including reigning British Open champion Francesco Molinari.

Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion, posted a bogey-free 67 that included three straight birdies through No. 6, while Phil Mickelson, who won the tournament in 1997, shot 68 to tie for third with Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, Bubba Watson, Billy Horschel and Patrick Rodgers of Stanford.

"Best round of the year, and probably a decade for me", Pepperell said.

Fleetwood, a three-time victor on the European Tour, is ready to take the next step by winning in America, and he looked up to the task.

"It was just nice to have a day like that and just constantly feel at ease really with hitting good golf shots".

Eight-time victor Tiger Woods returns to challenge some of the best golfers in the world such as Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and defending champion Rory McIlroy.

Without an equipment contract, Fleetwood has a mixed bag of clubs.

He had five brands of equipment in his bag, and two new ones stood one.

Lefty drove his ball under a netting fence separating the course form a neighbouring backyard and was forced to turn over one of his irons and take a right-handed swipe.

Woods has racked up career earnings of $7.6 million at the event.

Marc Leishman impressed with a battling an even par 72, a remarkable effort after being 4-over through six holes. The ball landed just right and rolled out to 6 feet behind the flag on the upper right shelf of the green.

He made that eagle putt, too.

World number two Justin Rose hit a 70 to sit six shots off the pace but the tournament ended early for five times major victor Phil Mickelson, who failed to make the cut after a six-over 78 that included three bogeys and two doubles.

"My back was sore when I was practicing from Tuesday to Saturday, and I was going to practice on Sunday, but I woke up and couldn't really walk or sit in the vehicle, " said Day, who has a history of back issues. A year ago it got firm on the weekend. "If I'm sitting here at four under we're looking at a really good round, so I've got to clean the speed up on the greens a little bit tomorrow and I should be fine".

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