CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Rory McIlroy is charging again.
The world’s top-ranked player shot a 5-under 67 on Friday to pull within one shot of the early second-round lead at the Wells Fargo Championship.
McIlroy trailed Martin Flores and newcomer Patrick Rodgers, who were at 8-under 136 after 36 holes. First-round leader Robert Streb has also moved to 8 under with 12 holes left to play.
Will MacKenzie was tied with McIlroy at 7 under after rounds of 69 and 68.
McIlroy said his focus Friday was on eliminating mistakes after an up-and-down opening round 70. He did just that, posting five birdies and no bogeys. He was never in any real danger of making bogey in what he called a “stress-free round.”
“Anytime you can play a round of golf with no bogeys you’re doing something right,” said McIlory, who won here in 2010.
McIlroy was on his game from the beginning, draining a 29-foot birdie putt on the first hole. He was methodical the rest of the way, hitting 14 of 18 greens in regulation with 29 putts.
With four top-10 finishes in six events this year, McIlroy’s confidence keeps growing. He said his biggest strength now is his patience, understanding that he doesn’t have to go for every birdie opportunity.
“Just knowing from experience what a good score is and (that) sometimes, if it’s just not happening, you’re not losing any ground,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I could have shot 63 or 64, but realizing that 67 is still a good score and puts me in position going into the weekend.”
The 22-year-old Rodgers, a regular on the Web.com Tour, is playing on a sponsor’s exemption. He ranks 333rd in the world and has never finished in the top 25 on the PGA Tour.
That clearly hasn’t affected his confidence.
Rodgers, who played at Stanford, now shares a rented house with Jordan Spieth in Jupiter, Florida. He said he plays golf with the Masters champion regularly at The Bear’s Club. He adds being around one of the best golfer’s in the world will make him better.
Spieth’s win at Augusta National combined with the success of other players in golf’s so-called youth movement have given Rodgers the added confidence that he’ll be winning PGA tournaments soon.
“The young guys are ready to come out here and win,” Rodgers said. “I feel no different. I feel really prepared. That’s why I turned professional. I’m excited to get in the mix this weekend.”
Flores will be there too for a second straight year.
He shared the lead at the midway point of the Wells Fargo Championship last year with Angel Cabrera and turned in a career-best third place finish.
“Certain courses kind of fit your eye,” Flores said. “This is one of them.”