“One of our best friends lives on the golf course, so it’s nice to have sort of familiar surroundings like that,” Fleetwood said. “It was just nice to have a day like that and just constantly feel at ease really with hitting good golf shots. I’ve not played that well recently but today felt much like how I should.”
It was a fine Florida morning for England, with Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace shooting 68 and 69 respectively on their debuts in the event to move to four under. McIlroy is two further behind after a 70 and, although he would like to be nearer his Ryder Cup team-mate at the top of the leaderboard, he will remember 12 months ago when he came from off the pace for his first win in 18 months. That was also his most recent victory.
On the European Tour, former Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson is in the mix at the halfway point of the Qatar Masters. Wilson, 38, won twice on the Challenge Tour last year and, despite falling agonisingly short of regaining his full playing privileges on the Tour proper, has already posted two top fives in this campaign.