Rahm slides down leaderboard at Arnold Palmer Invitational as Kitayama and Spieth move up

By Sports Desk March 03, 2023

Jon Rahm's brilliant recent run came to a dramatic halt in windy conditions as he slipped down the leaderboard on day two at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Friday, with Kurt Kitayama taking a two-stroke lead.

Rahm, who has claimed five wins from his past nine starts worldwide, had led the event after an opening-day seven-under 65 but carded a four-over round of 76 on day two to be six strokes off the pace at three-under overall.

The Spaniard's round saw him come back to earth, falling away dramatically late with three bogeys and a double bogey in his final five holes at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Florida.

Rahm's struggles opened the door for Kitayama, who had been joint second after the first day. Kitayama backed that up with a four-under 68 with five birdies and one bogey to be nine-under overall.

Kitayama has led three events this season after 36 holes and is yet to convert any into victories.

Over Kitayama's shoulder is three-time major winner Jordan Spieth who found his putting groove to card a three-under-par 69, sitting two shots off the lead at seven-under overall. Spieth might have been closer if not for a bogey on the 18th after a poor drive.

Xander Schauffele and Corey Conners are tied at six under, with Davis Riley, Patrick Cantlay, Matt Fitzpatrick and Justin Thomas behind them at five under. Conners carded the day's best round with a six-under 66.

Last month's Honda Classic winner Chris Kirk was tied for second after the opening day but also dropped away with a day-two 75 that included two double bogeys.

Among those to miss the projected cut, with play suspended with two players left on the course, were Collin Morikawa, Tom Hoge and Hideki Matsuyama.

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