McIlroy takes Wells Fargo lead with course-record 61


Scores were low early in the day at Quail Hollow, but Rory McIlroy later took things to a new level. Here's how things stand after three rounds of the Wells Fargo Championship, where McIlroy grabbed the lead with a record-setting performance:

Leaderboard: Rory McIlroy (-18), Webb Simpson (-14), Robert Streb (-11), Brendan Steele (-10), Patrick Rodgers (-10), Justin Thomas (-9), Carlos Ortiz (-9), Will Mackenzie (-9), Phil Mickelson (-8)

What it means: McIlroy began the day three shots off the lead, but he stormed to the top of the standings with an 11-under 61, breaking a course record that he previously set in 2010. He'll play the final round alongside Simpson, a Quail Hollow member, in what appears to be a two-player race.

Round of the day: McIlroy reeled off three straight birdies on Nos. 7-9 to make the turn in 5-under 31, but he was only getting started. He added a birdie at No. 10, his fourth in a row, then carded five straight birdies on Nos. 12-16 to cap a 10-hole stretch in which the Ulsterman was 9 under. He reached 15 of 18 greens in regulation, took just 23 putts and carded 11 birdies despite the fact that his longest made putt was from 14 feet on No. 16. Eight of his birdies were from inside 10 feet.

Best of the rest: Thomas made a third-round move last week at TPC Sawgrass, and the rookie was at it again this time at Quail Hollow. Thomas shot a 7-under 65, a round that was highlighted by a pair of eagles at Nos. 5 and 7. He made the turn in 30 before adding a trio of back-nine birdies.

Biggest disappointment: Streb held at least a share of the lead after each of the first two rounds, but he was unable to get much going in Round 3. Streb bogeyed his first hole, one of three bogeys on the day, and with other players firing low scores, he lost ground with a 1-under 71.

Main storyline heading into Sunday: McIlroy recorded his first career PGA Tour victory at Quail Hollow in 2010, and he appears headed for another title on a course where he clearly feels comfortable. Simpson will have plenty of gallery support, but after weeks of inconsistency in patches, McIlroy seems to be firing on all cylinders this week in Charlotte.

Shot of the day: McIlroy found himself on the pine straw on No. 12, but his approach found the green and spun to within 5 feet. It set up his seventh birdie of the day and sparked a run of five straight birdies across the back nine.

Quote of the day: "I was thinking 59 from the 14th tee box." - McIlroy