Halfway hut at the Wells Fargo Championship: Charging Rory McIlroy cut to 4/1 favourite

A round-up of the best stats, quotes and social after 36 holes of the 2021 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in North Carolina.

Rory McIlroy fans knew that this week's Wells Fargo Championship represented a golden chance for their man to find a spark.

After all, Quail Hollow was the scene of his first PGA Tour victory: one he won in spectacular style after coming from the cut line to shoot 66-62 on the weekend.

Runner-up in 2012 after losing a play-off, McIlroy then shot a third-round 61 on the way to a second victory at Quail Hollow in 2015. Overall, he has two wins, a second, a fourth and three other top 10s at the course.

The obvious negative against him this week was current form: McIlroy had looked a lost figure at Augusta National where he missed the cut for the first time in 11 years.

It was a classic course form v current form debate in the eyes of punters but so far it's the former holding sway.

After a mixed 1-over 72 on day one, the Northern Irishman threw in a 5-under 66 on Friday to surge 68 spots up the leaderboard to tied fifth. He's just two behind the lead held by Matt Wallace, Gary Woodland and Patrick Rodgers.

McIlroy got his work done early and then sat back to watch the afternoon wave struggle in the wind.

With Kramer Hickok in solo fourth and Rory sharing fifth with Scott Piercy, Keith Mitchell, Carlos Ortiz and Scott Stallings, this isn't the most daunting of leaderboards.

At the start of the week, the betting was headed by Justin ThomasJon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau.

Thomas is back at even par after a second-round 73, Rahm missed the cut and DeChambeau only just scraped through to the weekend after firing 70-74 to finish at 2-over: that's six back from McIlroy and eight off the lead.

Paddy Power odds after 36 holes: 4/1 Rory McIlroy, 13/2 Matt Wallace, 15/2 Gary Woodland, 16/1 Abraham Ancer, Patrick Rodgers, 18/1 Carlos Ortiz, 20/1 Patrick Reed, 22/1 Justiin Thomas, Viktor Hovland, Bubba Watson, 25/1 Keith Mitchell, 28/1 Scott Stallings. Also: 100/1 Xander Schauffele, 125/1 Bryson DeChambeau

Click here for the leaderboard

Here are the best stats, quotes and social from Quail Hollow after 36 holes.

Stats

McIlroy has hit just nine of 28 fairways so far but ranks second in Driving Distance. He's also in the top 25 in three main Strokes Gained categories: Off The Tee (23rd), Approach (20th) and Putting (24th). Fifth in Scrambling suggests all parts of his game are working nicely.

On day two, he topped two Strokes Gained categories.

html) */?>

Also in McIlroy's favour is the record of halfway leaders. There have been 21 leaders/co-leaders in this event at Quail Hollow and the only one to convert was Tiger Woods in 2007. Bad news for this week's 36-hole pacesetters Wallace, Woodland and Rodgers.

McIlroy was also fifth at halfway when winning here in 2015: a good omen perhaps. On that occasion he was three off the lead heading into the weekend.

Co-leader Gary Woodland won the US Open two years ago so has plenty of pedigree. He was the halfway leader at Pebble Beach so converted there but he's failed to get the win on the other six occasions he's topped the standings on Friday night.

There were no bogey-free rounds on day two. Peter Malnati and Keegan Bradley were the only two players to manage clean cards in round one.

Quotes

Rory McIlroy on his performance so far and comfort level

"I feel like I've birdied a lot of the hard holes this week, which is nice confidence, but knowing that even if you don't birdie a par-5 or you don't take advantage of the easier holes, that you're hitting it good enough that you can still make birdies on the tougher holes, I guess. So that probably makes it a touch easier that I am here and I'm somewhere that I am very comfortable. Like it is nice, you get it going, you know, you're 3 or 4 under and you get the crowd going with you and then that helps. Especially just having crowds back in general is good, but especially here in Charlotte where I've had some great success and I feed off that as well."

Matt Wallace on trying to get a first PGA TOUR win

"This is the next step. I've always tried to progress my career in ways where I put myself in sticky spots, you know. And it's tough over here. The PGA TOUR is really tough. The golf courses are amazing, they're big, the players from top to bottom can win, and so it's very difficult to get it done. I'm just playing -- I'm playing really nice now. Ever since Bay Hill I've been on a nice stretch. I'm in a good mental space. Everything I want to achieve on the golf course, I know what I need to do to achieve that and, yeah, we're in a good spot."

Gary Woodland on sudden improvement after his MC at the Valspar

"Last week was pretty much rock bottom for me. Golf course that I've had success on, won on and went out and played absolutely miserable, missed the cut. Made a change, went back, talked to Butch on Saturday, worked with him over the phone. And then Pete Cowen was in town working with Rory, so Pete came down and we worked in person on Sunday. Went back to seeing what I've been doing the last year compared to what I was doing three, four years ago when I was hitting it well. Saw the difference visually and then we kind of tried to get back to that. My body's great. It's allowing me to do that, which is nice. I've seen some shots this week that I just haven't seen in a long time. The golf swing feels so much better. Confidence has gone way up, which I did not have really in the last year."

Patrick Rodgers assessing his second straight 3-under 68

"Yeah, pretty sharp overall. There's always going to be mistakes, especially on a golf course like this, it penalises almost every mediocre shot. I think I would have probably liked to get more out of the finish of my round. Felt like after the start I got off to, I put myself in a really good position with some scoring holes to go, but I'm right there in the mix. I love this golf course. I've been in the mix here before and I'm excited."

First-round leader Phil Mickelson on following 64 with 75

"I hit a lot of good shots on the front nine, I didn't make any putts and turned in even. Then the back nine I just wasn't sharp. I think kind of an example of what I've been talking about is like on 17 we're standing over the ball and I'm changing my mind and I'm changing the shot, moving the clubhead a little bit and it just -- instead of backing away and kind of refocusing, I just kind of hit it and I'm not really kind of aware of what I'm doing. So I've got to fix that and work on it. But I'm excited to be in contention heading into the weekend, and I know I'm playing well."

Abraham Ancer on battling the wind to shoot 70 and finish in T10

"Yeah, that was pretty tough. It kind of laid down a little bit on the last four, three holes, but other than that it was very, very challenging. Everything, even putting. It was tough with the reads because you felt the wind. I mean, you had to play the wind on the greens as well, so definitely very tough. Happy the way I fought. Unfortunately, finished with a bogey there, but other than that I played very solid."

Social

R2 highlights, Justin Thomas' near-miss hole-out eagle, brilliance from Rory, magic from Lanto Griffin and Phil being Phil...

JT close to an eagle hole-out

html) */?>

Rory's brilliant blind shot over trees

html) */?>

Magic from Lanto

html) */?>

Phil being Phil

html) */?>

Latest Golf Videos