Rory McIlroy makes move at Wells Fargo ChampionshipSecond-round 66 has him well in contention for the weekend
May 07, 2021
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Rory McIlroy’s Round 2 highlights from Wells Fargo
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rory McIlroy shot a second-round 66 at the Wells Fargo Championship and joked about needing to plug the coordinates of Quail Hollow Club into his GPS for the weekend.
He’s a member here and a two-time winner of the Wells Fargo, so he hardly needs the help, but the fact remains he’s been having a hard time finding his way to the money rounds on the PGA TOUR.
“It was better,” McIlroy said after making six birdies, one bogey. “I was really happy about my iron play coming in here, felt like I really found something last week. I didn't get a chance to show it (Thursday) because I wasn't finding the fairway very much, but today, just having some more opportunities to hit good iron shots and give myself birdie chances, I was able to show it a bit and it was nice.”
McIlroy had missed the cut at the Masters Tournament and PLAYERS Championship prior to the Wells Fargo, so everyone had a laugh when he was asked what he’s been doing with his Saturdays. He and his family went to the Bahamas for four days, during which time he watched Stewart Cink (69, 2 under) win the RBC Heritage. He went to a dinner party with U.S. Walker Cup Captain Nathaniel Crosby.
Despite the light banter, he really did look to be at a career crossroads when he got to Charlotte. It wasn’t that he turned 32 on Tuesday. It was that he is 15th in the Official World Golf Ranking, his lowest ranking since 2009, and 51st in the FedExCup. (He has twice won the season-long race, most recently in 2019.)
Part of the problem, McIlroy said, was that he got caught up trying to add speed and distance in the wake of Bryson DeChambeau’s runaway victory at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot last fall. A final-round 76 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard (T10) convinced him to make a coaching change for the first time in his life, going with Pete Cowen over childhood coach Michael Bannon.
He wasn’t that far off, McIlroy said, and he was right, resembling on Friday the player who in nine starts at the Wells Fargo has seven top-10 finishes, including two wins. He shot a course-record 62 to win going away in 2010 and broke his own record with a third-round 61 in his 2015 victory.
He didn’t hit the gear Friday, but still looked to be in his element.
“I feel like I've birdied a lot of the hard holes this week,” he said, “which is nice confidence, but knowing that even if you don't birdie a par-5 or you don't take advantage of the easier holes, that you're hitting it good enough that you can still make birdies on the tougher holes, I guess.
“So that probably makes it a touch easier that I am here and I'm somewhere that I am very comfortable.”
With the wind kicking up for the afternoon wave, making things very uncomfortable for the late starters, McIlroy may by just two or three back going into the weekend. That hardly seems like much.