Local boy Webb Simpson retook the lead heading into the final day of the Wells Fargo Championship as Rory McIlroy roared into contention.
Simpson, whose home is less than a mile from the Quail Hollow venue, shot a three-under 69 to lead by one from fellow Americans Ryan Moore and DA Points on 14 under.
But it was Northern Irishman McIlroy who had the day’s most eye-catching round, as his six-under 66 took him to 12 under par, two shots off the lead.
The 2010 champion birdied four of the first five holes and was six under through 11, but from there could only manage one more birdie and a second bogey at the 15th and 16th.
“When you get off to a good start like that, you birdie the first three holes, it gives you momentum early, and it’s something you can just go with,” McIlroy told www.espn.com. “I think that was the key to the round today, to get off to that kind of start.”
McIlroy, who hit a course-record 62 in 2010, also had a stroke of luck when his tee shot on the 18th hit a spectator on the backside and rebounded towards the fairway.
Simpson carded five birdies against two bogies, while overnight leader Nick Watney, Simpson’s house guest for the week and playing partner for the day, was level for the day to sit in a share of fourth alongside McIlroy.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” Simpson told www.pgatour.com. “I look at the leaderboard and there’s so many great players within a shot or two. So I know it’s going to be a tough day.
“I know I can go out and shoot four under and get beat by two or three. This is one of those golf courses where if conditions are right you can get a string of birdies going.
“You saw McIlroy a few years ago shoot 10 under. Knowing that, my expectations aren’t too high. Obviously I want to go out there and try to win, but all I can do is kind of control what we’re doing.”
Watney was set to share second with Moore and Points until he found a creek to the left of the fairway on 11 and bogeyed.
A shot behind him and McIlroy were Rickie Fowler, who carded a five-under 67, and Stewart Cink.
After barely making the cut, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood both had better days, going four under to sit in a share of 30th on five under, in a group which also contained Scotland’s Martin Laird.