CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rory McIlroy is halfway to another stirring comeback at Quail Hollow.
Trailing by six shots at the start of the third round, the young Northern Irishman fired a 6-under 66 Saturday to move near the top of a crowded leaderboard at the Wells Fargo Championship. At 12-under 204, McIlroy is two shots behind leader and local favorite Webb Simpson — and this time, Rory won’t need to close with 62 to earn the title. In 2010, he made the cut on the number and surged to his maiden PGA Tour victory with a 66-62 on the weekend, blitzing the field in a flawless, star-making performance.
“I’ll draw on those good memories and those positive thoughts from a couple of years ago,” McIlroy said. “I’ve had some great experiences on this golf course, and hopefully I can create a few more tomorrow.”
On Saturday, he had the makings of a similarly brilliant round, birdieing four of his first five holes and seven of his first 11. Tied for the lead at 13 under, McIlroy three-putted from 15 feet on the 16th hole to drop into a tie for fourth, just two shots back.
“You know, a 66 is a good score out there,” said McIlroy, who can move to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a solo seventh or better, “and I feel like I’ve got another one of those scores in me.”
Walking in McIlroy’s gallery Saturday were his parents, Gerry and Rosie, who surprised Rory by flying into town yesterday and waiting in the lobby before his 23rd birthday dinner. They were treated to an awesome display of power Saturday, with McIlroy pumping six drives longer than 320 yards during his third round, including a 377-yard bomb on the 16th.
Asked if he’s longer now than ever before, Rory said, “I don’t think I hit it any longer, I just don’t need to try and hit it. It just goes.”
At Quail Hollow, that’s been a winning combination.