When Rory McIlroy is at his best, he’s almost impossible to beat. That’s why it’s going to be awfully tough for the Wells Fargo Championship field to topple the world No. 1 on Sunday.
McIlroy shot a new course record, an 11-under round of 61 at Quail Hollow Club on Saturday to open up a four-shot edge over Webb Simpson.
However, McIlroy had been thinking of a sub-60 round as he hit the back stretch.
“Fifty-nine was in my mind as soon as the putt dropped on 13,” McIlroy said of the putt that got him to 8 under on the day.
He was looking the 14th, a short par 4, and the par-5 15th, as potential eagle opportunities. Then he would have needed another birdie to get to 59. Instead, he birdied both holes and the 16th, capping off a string of five birdies in a row, before settling for a pair of pars coming in to break the prior course record which McIlroy shared with Brendon de Jonge.
McIlroy wished he were more aggressive with his tee shot to the difficult par-3 17th.
“If I could take any shot back today it was that 7-iron on 17,” he said. “I just bailed out right.”
Quail Hollow member Webb Simpson is in second place at 14 under and is likely the only player that can catch McIlroy on Sunday without a collapse from the Ulsterman.
However, that seems incredibly unlikely. McIlroy struck the ball so well on Saturday that he didn’t sink a putt longer than 15 feet. On top of that, putting coach Dave Stockton Sr. has McIlroy dialed in with the putter thanks to a three-minute lesson ahead of the tournament.
And, if all else fails, it seemingly just takes reminding McIlroy that anyone considers the likes of Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler as his equals to ignite an earth-salting round like the one he played Saturday.
Rivals? Sometimes, but not when McIlroy plays like this.