Tuesday, May 21, 2024

McIlroy homing in on major boosting win at Quail Hollow – News – Irish Golf Desk

Must read

Rory McIlroy joked he now knows “what Scottie Scheffler feels like” after he went bogey-free for the second day running to get within a shot of leader Xander Schauffele heading into the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.

McIlroy went into the third round four strokes behind the impressive world number four.

But after an enthralling duel, especially from the tee, he carded a four-under 67 to sit alone in second on 11-under and give himself a chance of heading to next week’s PGA Championship with a win.

Schauffele got up and down from greenside sand at the last for par to shoot 70 and remain in front on 12-under.

But McIlroy, buoyed by his recent win with Shane Lowry in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, is gunning now for his fourth win in Charlotte having won there in 2010, 2015 and 2021.

After hitting 13 tee shots over 313 yards for an average of 328.4 yards, McIlroy believes he’s driving the ball as well as he ever has at a course where driving distance is key,

“I would say that’s a direct result of some of the feelings I got in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago,” McIlroy said. “A lot of the stuff Butch and I worked on was more like iron play and wedges.  

“The driving is more just me committing to most of the time hitting that little cut that I’ve been hitting off the tee, and then having the freedom to just, every time I hit a good tee shot, the more confidence I get and then the more I want to just keep hitting it.”

While he’s ranked just 30th for strokes gained putting, the Holywood star has missed just six putts inside ten feet all week.

That could prove key in what looks like a two-horse race for the title, with Sunjae Im four shots behind Schauffele in third on eight-under and Sepp Straka a shot further back.

“I think I’ve held out pretty well for the most part inside six feet, and then I think because I know this golf course so well, I’ve missed it in the right spots when I have missed the green,” McIlroy said.

“To play two rounds in a row on this golf course in these conditions bogey-free is a bit of a feather in my cap; I’m pretty proud of that.”

His play so far this week is a huge boost to his confidence heading to the PGA Championship at Valhalla, where he won the most recent of his four major titles in 2014.

He certainly could not have chosen a better venue to bid for his 26th PGA TOUR win than Quail Hollow, where he shot 62 to win his first PGA Tour title in 2010.

“Billy Mayfair was leading going into the final round,” he recalled. “I played with Scott McCarron on this Saturday pretty early. Obviously played with A.K. (Anthony Kim) on Sunday; Phil was up there, and Cabrera was up there. Yeah, lifetime ago.”

He added: “I need to go out and shoot another solid round of golf like I have the last three days.
“If I do that, the course isn’t getting any easier. The greens are getting firmer, and if I can go out and shoot—I think it’s a stretch to say I am going to be bogey-free again—but if I can go out and shoot a bogey-free round tomorrow, I think I will have a great shot.”

As for Schauffele, who is seeking his first win since he won the 2022 Genesis Scottish Open, he knows McIlroy will be tough to beat.

“I’m going to have to earn it tomorrow,” he said. “I’ve got Rory breathing down my neck.  

“I’ll look at the leaderboard here shortly, but yeah, I think if I strike the ball the way I did today off the tee and just a little more focus coming into the greens, picking the spots and then going through my process a little better, should be in a good shape.”

Seamus Power carded a one-under 70 to move up to 24th on level par while Shane Lowry’s 73 left him tied 53rd in the 68-man field on six-over.

Latest article