CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Rory McIlroy is hoping history repeats itself.
McIlroy shot a 65 on Saturday to move to 6 under and put himself in outside contention to make a run at his second Wells Fargo Championship — which is more than he could say after the first two days of the tournament.
We’ve seen this before from McIlroy at the Quail Hollow Club.
In 2010 he made the cut on the number, then proceeded to shoot a 66-62 over the final two days to win. This year, McIlroy again made the cut on the number at 1-over.
He closed out the third round by holing a par putt on No. 18 and then gave a dramatic fist pump to the crowd.
“It does” bring back memories, McIlroy said. “In 2010, I bogeyed the 18th hole on Saturday to shoot 66, so I had a putt on 18 to go one better. So that’s why I gave a first pump. I was sort of thinking of that.”
Now the big question is if McIlroy, the 11th-ranked player in the world, can duplicate his final round from four years ago when he closed out the field with a 10-under 62, setting a course record.
McIlroy’s challenge might be a little tougher this time around.
In 2010 he entered the final round down four shots. On Sunday, he’ll tee it up seven shots off the pace.
McIlroy’s not sure if it will take another 62 to win, but said “at least I’ve given myself a chance.”
FIGHTING TO RELAX: So what does the Irishman do before what’s expected to be an intense final round of golf?
Rory McIlroy said he planned to spend Saturday night watching a European soccer match followed by the welterweight championship fight between Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana.
“Just relax and get ready,” McIlroy said.
PHIL’S CHALLENGE: Phil Mickelson had 216 yards to the hole on the par-3 13th, and caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay made some quick calculations. Mickelson usually hits 5-iron that distance, but it’s slightly downhill. Should be a 6-iron.
Before he could say anything, the boss said, “I love a good 7-iron.”
“I said, ‘Oh my God,’ before I could catch it,” Mackay said. “He told me he took that ‘Oh my God’ as a challenge.”
Mickelson hooded the 7-iron to play for a draw and a little more distance, and it wound up just inside 10 feet for a birdie. Point proved.
“Any time in my 22 years caddying for him he says, ‘I guarantee I can get there,’ he does,” Mackay said.
Mickelson was coy about the moment later.
“Every now and then I’ll stump him, but I just saw a different shot,” Mickelson said.
Mickelson figured a 6-iron would hit a swale in the green and sent it over the green. Or he would have to play 20 feet away from the pin and “you know me, that’s not my thing.” So he went with the 7-iron.
“Having to shut the face, the ball was going to be go a lot longer,” he said. “And I think it just kind of shocked him that, you know, the yardage was … I don’t normally hit a 7-iron that far.”
FAVORITE UNDERDOG: J.B. Holmes has sole possession of the lead at the Wells Fargo Championship entering Sunday but that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Only three times in the tournament’s 11-year history has the third-round leader gone on to win and none since 2008.
The three who accomplished the feat were David Toms in 2003, Jim Furyk in 2006 and Anthony Kim in 2008.
TOUGH TANDEM: Mark Wilson and Pat Perez were paired Saturday and seemed to generate energy from playing with each other. They both started the day at even par for the championship and both shot 66 to move to 6 under.
Both players made big sweeping putts for birdies on the challenging par-3 17th hole.
“It’s nice when you feed off someone like that,” Wilson said. “We got off to good starts, both of us, and kept going.”
The twosome moved around the course quickly, occasionally getting held up by the group ahead of them.
“I like fast anyway,” Perez said. “So we played fast and it was just kind of nice to keep rolling.”
Perez said he has been battling a painful shoulder injury and wasn’t sure if he’d be able to play this week. He said he was able to get some feeling back in his swing on Thursday after a rough week of practice.
CABRERA FLOUNDERS: Angel Cabrera entered the third round with a share of the lead but shot 75 Saturday after a brutal 39 on the front nine.
He was seven shots behind leader J.B. Holmes.
Cabrera won the 2009 Masters and 2007 U.S. Open, but strangely enough has never a non-major PGA Tour event.
DIVOTS: The final three holes at the Wells Fargo championship are called the “Green Mile” and, not surprisingly, they’ve proven to be the three most difficult holes of the tournament. … J.B. Holmes had seven drives of longer than 320 yards on Saturday, but his most memorable moment came when he sank a birdie putt from the fringe on the 18th green to move to 13 under.
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.
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