World No. 1 Rory McIlroy delivered a chilling reminder to his rivals as he targets a second PGA Tour success in three weeks and a second Wells Fargo Championship victory in suburban Charlotte, North Carolina.
McIlroy didn’t drop a shot in a five-under par 67 to head to the Quail Hollow clubhouse in second place at seven under par and only a shot behind leading American Martin Flores who carded a similar score in the $7m event.
The four-time Major winning McIlroy birdied the same three par fives, the fifth, 10th and 15th holes, for a second day running while one of his standout shots was a 7-iron into the par three 13th or the fourth hole of his round where he rolled in a 10-foot birdie.
There was also a superb flop shot from 85-feet right of the pin at the par four 16th where McIlroy said he was staring at a two to three yard landing area, and with his ball eventually stopping two foot from the pin where he managed to save par.
And it wasn’t just McIlroy’s short game that was sharp as he hit 11 of 14 drives over 300-yards including a 358-yard effort through the green at the short downhill par four 14th and a booming 338-yard drive uphill at the par four 18th.
“I’m getting myself into third gear and I’ve really found a good driver as I drove beautifully last week at Sawgrass and I’ve continued to do that this week,” he said.
“My iron play wasn’t as sharp as it could have been but it’s still a good score and puts me right in there.
“I just feel good out there and mentally I feel pretty fresh, and I am not putting myself under too much stress out there to save pars or anything. So it was pretty much stress-free out there and anytime you can play a round of golf without any bogeys you have to be doing something right.
“So I will be looking more of the same over the weekend.”
Five years ago and at age just 20, McIlroy became the youngest winner of the Wells Fargo Championship and now he heads to the weekend with four Majors, two WGCs, four regular PGA Tour wins and seven other wins to his name.
And it is his stature in the game McIlroy believes will intimidate his rivals as he targets a third success this season.
“Everything has changed since I won here in 2010 as I am a much better player while my stature in the game is much higher and I feel like when I am on the leaderboard my name carries a little bit more weight,” he said.
“People will look for my name on the leaderboard as well I am much better prepared when I go into tournaments now so that I can get myself into contention in these tournaments week in and week out.
“I am also a better all-round player and mentally I am so much stronger particularly in staying patient and realising what a good score is out there.
“I feel that when it comes to patience I have got a whole lot better and that is one of the main strengths of my game now. I know from experience what a good score is and when you put yourself into contention sometimes good scoring doesn’t happen and you take today because the way I hit it I could have shot 63 or 64 but standing here and realising a 67 is a good score and it puts me in a good position going into the weekend.”
And after being upstaged a day earlier by American Patrick Reed, who will make his European Tour debut next week at the BMW PGA Championship and contest the following week’s Irish Open, McIlroy saw off Reed’s challenge with the four-time Tour winner posting a 74 and eight shots more than a day earlier
After his many media commitments McIlroy was then headed to a well-earned lunch within the Quail Hollow clubhouse with two of his closest friends Mitchell Tweedie and Ricky McCormack.
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