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PGA TOUR AT QUAIL HOLLOW | 2014 WELLS FARGO CHAMPIONSHIP

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Rory McIlroy’s putting practice pays off Saturday

McIlroy’s putting practice pays off

Rory McIlroy spent nearly an hour after Friday’s round of 76 on the Quail Hollow Club putting green trying to find his stroke.

He found it at the Wells Fargo Championship on Saturday when he shot a 7-under 65 to finish in a tie for 11th.

McIlroy, the 2010 Wells Fargo winner, didn’t have time for the putting green after finishing his round at noon Saturday, though.

“Yeah, in the mix, depends what the guys are going to do this afternoon, but I’ll enjoy a nice afternoon – there is a pretty big soccer match going on back in England pretty soon, so I’ll watch that,” said McIlroy, referring to the Manchester City vs. Everton match. “And (I’m) looking forward to the (Floyd) Mayweather fight tonight and just relax and get ready for (Sunday) afternoon.”

McIlroy, who is one of golf’s best putters but struggled at the Masters last month, complained of inconsistent greens at Quail Hollow earlier this week. But McIlroy had just 25 putts Saturday after 31 in the second round.

“Especially, I struggle with the left-to-right putts, so I had a lot of left-to-right putts last night and just trying to train my eyes into seeing what it should be,” McIlroy said. “It was good (Friday) night and I trusted it out there today and it worked.”

McIlroy carded five birdies in the first eight holes and finished the front nine at 32. He added three birdies on the back nine to finish with a 65.

He went 73-66-62 in the final three rounds of 2010 to win at Quail Hollow after barely making the cut. His 1-over par after Friday’s round just got him into the weekend, but he doesn’t want this to become a habit.

“It’s the exact same (as four years ago),” McIlroy said. “I was 1 over, the lead was 9 under. I shot one less today, so I might not need the 62 that I shot in 2010, but I’ll take it.”

No-look Flores: Martin Flores, who is second by a stroke at 12-under par, stayed at or near the top of the leader board Saturday, but said he never saw it.

“I just thought that was irrelevant,” Flores said, “because there are so many good players out here that if you’re not attacking and trying to move forward, you can get passed.”

Flores had a 3-under day with four birdies between holes 8-12. He bogeyed No. 18 after hitting into the water on the left side of the fairway.

He knew he was playing well, but Flores also knew others had posted low scores early in the day.

While eating lunch, Flores looked up and saw McIlroy was at 7 under . He teed off at 1:40 p.m., and that was the last he saw of the board.

“I went through the pin sheet with my caddy on the range,” Flores said. “We were talking about where the tees were, where the pins were. The weather was beautiful. ... Definitely the opportunities were out there, for sure.”

Observations

• Pat Perez (6 under) didn’t think he’d play Thursday with a sore shoulder. By Saturday he said he had feeling back in his shoulder.

• Kevin Kisner (10 under) nearly made a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th. He landed the ball near the center of the green and worked it left, and the ball went just behind the hole. He tapped in for birdie.

• Angel Cabrera, who was tied for the lead after the second round, was the only golfer in the top 21 to finish Saturday over par.

• After tying the tournament record Friday, Charlotte resident Brendon de Jonge shot 4 under to go to 6 under on the tournament.

By the numbers

3 third-round leaders who have gone on to win the Wells Fargo Championship.

0 third-round leaders have won the Wells Fargo Championship since 2008.

29 strokes for Phil Mickelson on the front nine, a tournament record.

373 yards on Stewart Cink’s tee shot on No. 16, the longest drive of the day.

5 under par on the tournament for defending champion Derek Ernst.

Quotes

“The last group you kind of know what to do, but there has been a lot of people win from the last group. Probably more than from the other groups.” – J.B. Holmes

“I’m sure I will be a little nervous, but I was nervous today. That’s not going to change anything that I’ve done.” – Martin Flores

“The difference between the first two days and today is I hit more fairways. It’s easier to play the golf course from the fairway.” – Mark Wilson

“It’s going to be a fun day tomorrow.” – Phil Mickelson

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