Rory McIlroy has arrived, and it didn’t even take a low score.
McIlroy’s 2-under 68 Saturday at TPC Potomac was good enough to propel him 44 spots up the Wells Fargo Championship leaderboard on a challenging weather day.
“Especially after the start that I had,” McIlroy added, “that was pretty good.”
McIlroy bogeyed each of his first two holes Saturday in cold and damp conditions, his first tournament since finishing runner-up at the Masters on the heels of a closing 64. But, starting at the par-3 12th hole (his third of the day), he stuffed a handful of iron shots on the front nine to mount his assault.
At Nos. 12 and 17, the other back-nine par-3, he made 9-footers. He made a 6-foot birdie putt to finish his first nine with a tight pitch to set up birdie at the short par-4 14th.
“I guess I knew I had some chances coming up at that point,” McIlroy said. “Perhaps not 12, because I birdied it, but 13, 14, 16, with all kinds of wedges in your hand, or 14, a drivable par-4.” So, at that moment, all I was trying to do was get back on track for the day. “I did slightly better than that.”
With nine straight pars on the front nine, McIlroy cooled off on his second side. Through 54 holes, he’s 3 over par on the front nine, with three bogeys and a double.
McIlroy remarked, “I felt like I could have been a couple lower.” “I hit the ball really well on the front nine, but I didn’t convert any of the opportunities I offered myself.” But I can’t be too dissatisfied in the end; 2 under out there was a great result.”
On Sunday, he’ll be tied for sixth place at 2 under par, six shots behind leader Keegan Bradley. Could McIlroy stage a comeback with another round like his third, with the weather not forecast to change much – less rain, but cooler?
“I can’t see tomorrow being any more difficult than today,” McIlroy added. “You can’t really chase anything around here because it’s such a difficult golf course, but six strokes is still a long way back.” You know, if you went down to data golf, I’m sure my winning % wouldn’t be very high at this point.”
For those curious, McIlroy has a 2.1 percent chance of winning. Bradley has 54.3 percent of the vote.