Fitzpatrick 1 Up on Rory at Bay Hill

Matthew Fitzpatrick of England and defending champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland charged from back in the pack to the top of the leaderboard in the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The 24-year-old Fitzpatrick (pictured) carded a bogey-free, 5-under-par 67 to take a one-stroke lead over the sixth-ranked McIlroy, who recorded a 66, heading to the final round at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Fla.

“I think I just played real smart,” said Fitzpatrick, who has won five times on the European Tour but is looking for his first PGA Tour victory. “I’ve been driving the ball well all week and hitting a lot of greens. You just have to hit your targets and the greens are fiery.

“I’ve been in this position before and have experienced winning, five times. It’s different over here, the courses are different, but I’ve put myself in a good position. Rory is the defending champion and has a lot of fans over here. I’m looking forward to it.”

Fitzpatrick made two late birdies to pass McIlroy with a 54-hole score of 9-under 207.

McIlroy, who was seven shots behind and tied for 31st after two rounds, birdied four of his first six holes after starting early in the day, before adding three birdies on the last four holes to lead before Fitzpatrick caught and passed him.

“(A birdie on the second hole) was a great way to start,” said McIlroy, who has 23 victories in his pro career, but none since last year at Bay Hill. “The key is to hit fairways and you have to spin the ball to get it to stop on the greens. But the greens are so pure, if you start putts on line they have a good chance to go in. But the pins are in some tricky spots.

“I think the golf course is playing much harder this year than in the past. With the wind, it’s going to get even firmer. I stayed patient yesterday and knew I could shoot a low one today to get right back in it. It’s so bunched up that even though the lead is (9-under), I think (several players) still have a chance to win it.”

Aaron Baddeley of Australia and Matt Wallace of England both shot 69 and are two strokes behind in a tie for third with Kevin Kisner, who finished at 70.

Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain, who led after a first-round 66, totaled 70 and is another stroke down in a tie for sixth with Chris Kirk (66), Luke List (68), Charles Howell III (69) and 36-round co-leader Keegan Bradley (75), who made a 34-foot putt on the final hole.

Tommy Fleetwood of England, who shared the lead with Bradley after two rounds, made his only birdie with a seven-foot putt on the last hole to post a 76 and is in a tie for 11th that includes 10th-ranked Francesco Molinari of Italy, who had a 73.

Seventh-ranked Rickie Fowler of Murrieta shot 71 and is tied for 45th, second-ranked Justin Rose of England is tied for 59th after a 77 and fifth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis finished at 74 and is tied for 64th.

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