Wells Fargo Championship 2021: Rory McIlroy 2 Shots Back After 2nd-Round 66

Adam WellsMay 7, 2021

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 07: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks across the tenth green during the second round of the 2021 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club on May 07, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy vaulted into contention after the second round at the 2021 Wells Fargo Championship on Friday. 

After an opening-round 72, McIlroy rebounded with a 66 to bring his two-day score to four under par. He moved up 68 spots on the leaderboard into a five-way tie for fourth place. 

McIlroy is among the players chasing a trio of co-leaders heading into the weekend. Matt Wallace, Gary Woodland and Patrick Rodgers are tied for the top spot at six under par. 

One player not celebrating his performance on Friday was Phil Mickelson. After leading the tournament with a 64 on Thursday, Lefty fell off the pace with a four-over 75 in the second round. 

2021 Wells Fargo Championship Friday Leaderboard

T1. Matt Wallace (-6)

T1. Gary Woodland (-6)

T1. Patrick Rodgers (-6)

4. Kramer Hickok (-5)

T5. Scott Piercy (-4)

T5. Rory McIlroy (-4)

T5. Keith Mitchell (-4)

T5. Carlos Ortiz (-4)

T5. Scott Stallings (-4)

Full leaderboard via PGATour.com

Beginning on the back nine, McIlroy got off to a modest start with four consecutive pars. It was on No. 14 where he hit his first birdie and things started to pick up. . 

McIlroy's tee shot on that hole put him in a bad position where he had to take a drop in the right rough. His second shot landed 16 inches from the hole, setting him with an easy birdie putt. 


Blind shot<br>Over trees<br>Water behind green<br><br>It's not supposed to look this easy, @McIlroyRory. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ pic.twitter.com/DGtFHUha9n

McIlroy followed that with a birdie on his next hole and on No. 17 to make the turn at two under par overall. 

Despite that blip on No. 14, the key to McIlroy's success was putting himself in a good spot off the tee:

Justin Ray @JustinRayGolf

Rory McIlroy: 5.66 strokes gained tee to green today, his most in any @PGATOUR round since 2019.<br><br>His 3.60 strokes gained approach today were a season-high.

Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN

Rory McIlroy posts a 5-under 66 today. Won by 8 the last time the PGA Championship was at Kiawah, of course. Per @golfodds, moved from 20/1 to 18/1 for that event yesterday and down to 16/1 today.

McIlroy's first tee shot after making the turn was a thing of beauty:


The line @McIlroyRory took off the tee. ๐Ÿš€<br><br>He's 4-under in his last 6 holes. pic.twitter.com/gdU2FBYbIQ

The only significant blemish on McIlroy's scorecard was a three-putt on No. 4. It was his only bogey of the round. 

Playing in his first event after missing the cut at The Players Championship and the Masters, McIlroy said during his post-round press conference that he needed time away to figure out what was wasn't working: 

"When you played the way I played sort of through that stretch in March and into April, you're going to feel like you're not as close as you probably are. But I worked hard after Augusta. I took a week off and reset, which I needed. But then I put my head down and worked hard and at least felt better about everything coming in here."

McIlroy still has work to do if he wants to win his first PGA Tour event since the WGC-HSBC Champions event in November 2019. 

Rodgers at one point was four under on the front nine with two birdies and an eagle on the par-five seventh hole. Wallace shot a 67 on Friday on the strength of five birdies and one bogey. 

Woodland rebounded from a difficult stretch with back-to-back bogeys on his eighth and ninth holes before making the turn. The 36-year-old did get those two shots back with birdies on No. 2 and 7 to finish with a 69. 

Mickelson began the round appearing like he would settle for something close to par. He shot even par on the front nine with one birdie and one bogey. 

After making the turn, though, things fell apart for Mickelson. The 50-year-old shot a four-over par 40 over his final nine holes, highlighted by a double-bogey on the par-three 17th hole. 

Justin Ray @JustinRayGolf

Golf is hard, volume 34,544,657:<br><br>Phil on Thursday: 64, hit 14 GIR, +5.99 SG tee to green<br>Phil on Friday: 75, hit 7 GIR, -2.47 SG tee to green

Despite a rough day, Mickelson is tied for 10th place heading into the weekend. He trails the leaders by three shots and has already shown his ability to put up a low number on this course. 

Given how tight the leaderboard remains through 36 holes, it will be very interesting to see if anyone is able to make a big jump on moving day. There have been several low scores in each of the first two days at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina.