May 12, 2024

Rory McIlroy left Saturday’s round of the Wells Fargo Championship steaming ahead with no intention of looking back, and he was in a joking mood because of his strong drives.


On Saturday, McIlroy shot a bogey-free 4-under 67 at the Quail Hollow Golf & Country Club, pulling within one stroke of tournament leader Xander Schauffele. The Northern Irishman once again established himself as one of the biggest hitters on the PGA Tour, averaging 332.8 yards and 187.9 mph off the tee – the fourth-best driving day of his entire career, according to CBS Sports’ Rick Gehman.


It appears as though McIlroy gets no shortage of enjoyment from generating far greater driving distance than his peers. When asked if he likes to walk ahead of fellow players after blasting a longer shot off the tee, the 35-year-old joked: “I just like walking ahead of guys in general, yeah. Like them to be looking at my back.”


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Entering the final 18 holes of the Wells Fargo Championship, McIlroy’s confidence seems to be incredibly high. Following three consistent days shooting 67-68-67, he placed great emphasis on practising repetition and staying in rhythm.


“The driving is more just me committing to most of the time hitting that little cut that I’ve been hitting off the tee,” he said. “Every time I hit a good tee shot, the more confidence I get and then the more I want to just keep hitting it.”


McIlroy first began picking up momentum at the ninth and tenth holes, birdieing both to pull within two shots of Schauffele. After he pulled within one at hole No. 12, the raucous crowd greeted him with “Rory!” chants upon stepping foot on the 13th tee.


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Rory McIlroy averaged 332.8 yards off the tee on Saturday

Rory McIlroy averaged 332.8 yards off the tee on Saturday ( Image: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Another birdie by McIlroy on hole No. 14 evened the score, but Schauffele reclaimed the lead by sinking a long birdie putt himself. Despite not playing his best golf in the third round, the 30-year-old still managed to finish the day with a score of 70, bringing his total to 12-under 201.


“Some sleepy wedges in there unfortunately, some really good up-and-downs, kind of a mixed bag,” Schauffele told reporters. “Definitely made it harder on myself is what it felt like from being in some good spots in the fairway.


I’m going to have to earn it tomorrow,” he added “I’ve got Rory breathing down my neck. I’ll look at the leaderboard here shortly, but yeah, I think if I strike the ball the way I did today off the tee and just a little more focus coming into the greens, picking the spots and then going through my process a little better, should be in a good shape.”


If Schauffele is able to fend off McIlroy on Sunday, it will break his current streak of 38-straight tournaments without a PGA Tour victory.

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