CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rory McIlroy worked out the trouble with his putter in a hurry.
With a 7-under-par 65 Saturday, McIlroy shot up the leaderboard at the Wells Fargo Championship.
McIlroy started the day tied for 59th, having barely made the cut on the number after shooting a 76 on Friday. With a round of eight birdies and a bogey at Quail Hollow Saturday, McIlroy was tied for sixth when he signed his scorecard, some 90 minutes before the leaders were set to tee off. He was just three shots off the lead when his round ended. The leaders went low in the afternoon, however, and McIlroy ended up seven shots back of 54-hole leader J.B. Holmes.
“I figured out what I needed to do out there,” McIlroy said. “It was a really solid round of golf, and it gets me back in the tournament.”
McIlroy scrambled to make the cut on the number at Wells Fargo in 2010 and rallied on the weekend to win his first PGA Tour title.
For much of this season, McIlroy has battled a balky putter. He arrived this week, however, talking about how he discovered on the Sunday of the Masters that he was standing too close to the ball and that his line of sight to the target was off, making him aim incorrectly to the left.
After his 76 Friday, McIlroy headed directly to the practice putting green. He said he worked out an alignment he now just has to trust.
“Where I feel I'm aiming, and where I'm aiming, are two different things at the minute,” McIlroy said. “So, it’s a matter of doing the reps and doing more practice, until it becomes second nature, I guess.
“It was good last night, and I trusted it out there today and it worked.”
McIlroy opened Saturday’s round making a 6-foot birdie putt. He saved par with a 5-footer at the third and drained a 27-footer for birdie at the fourth. He didn’t miss a putt inside 10 feet all day. He holed a 9-footer to save par at the last.
Saturday’s bounce back puts McIlroy in a similar situation to when he won here in 2010. He also started that weekend 10 shots back, then shot 68 in the third round before closing out with a 62.
McIlroy said he is playing more aggressively in catch-up mode. He hit more drivers on Saturday, and he’ll probably need to take the same approach on Sunday, if the leaders don’t get too far away from him.
“It depends on where the guys are at the end of today,” McIlroy said. “If I'm still within four or five shots going into tomorrow, I think I'll have a chance. We'll see what happens.”