CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Following a day that included equal parts poor and proficient play, Rory McIlroy appeared to knock off any remaining rust from his extended break with a torrid opening nine on Friday at the Wells Fargo Championship.
The Northern Irishman chipped in for eagle at the par-5 seventh hole and rolled in birdie putts at Nos. 8 and 9 to move to 3 under par for the week following an opening 73.
On a course where he has a history of posting ridiculously low scores, McIlroy added another birdie at the 10th to move within four strokes of the lead but struggled the rest of the way and closed with back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 17 and 18 for a 3-under 69.
“Obviously not nice to finish the way I did with two bogeys but the rest of the card looks pretty good,” said McIlroy, a two-time winner at Quail Hollow Club. “I got it going around the middle of the round there and I had a lot of shots of much better quality than I did yesterday.”
McIlroy finished at 2 under, six shots back and tied for 24th place. He’s been in this position before.
In 2010, McIlroy started the weekend nine shots back and finished the tournament with rounds of 66-62 to win by four; and in ’15 he was three shots off the pace through 36 holes and carded a 61 on Saturday to win by seven shots.
“If I get off to a fast start tomorrow like I did today, then I'll be right there back in the tournament,” he said.