Angel Cabrera has taken the early lead at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, North Carolina. The big hitting Argentinian carded a six under 66 with only a single blotch on his card, a bogey at the par four, fourth hole.
He parred the first two holes before a birdie on the the third. Three more birdies saw him turning in 33 strokes and with three consecutive birdies between the 10th and 12th, the 44 year old was in the clubhouse with a good days work behind him. The ever-popular Phil Mickelson finished just a stroke behind in a tie for second with Martin Flores.
Stewart Cink, Johnaton Byrd and local member Webb Simpson hold a three way tie for fourth place with Rory McIlroy among a group of nine players that are just three shots off the lead that includes last year’s U.S. Open champion, Justin Rose. Mickelson playing with Rose and England’s Lee Westwood could have like so many other players finished with a better score. The changes to the course have been welcomed by the players but the key to unlocking Quail Hollow still remains on how the par fives are negotiated.
Rory McIlroy started on the back nine and turned on three under par. With the ‘green mile’ already behind him, he will be disappointed that he didn’t make further progress on his back nine, the easier front nine at Quail.
“I felt like I played solid. I gave myself plenty of looks for birdies and I felt like I putted a little better today that I have done in the past few weeks. I was looking to go a couple more under par after the turn but I bogeyed three and four but bounced back nicely on five and six and I was trying to squeeze a couple more but I think anything sub 70 is a good score because the wind is a little gusty out there’.
The two-time Major winner would love to give himself a timely birthday present on Sunday by taking the title here, the course where he claimed his first PGA Tour win back in 2010. As he turns 25 on Sunday, McIlroy should not be outside the world’s top ten, he is a better player than that and a good performance this week would put him back in the right direction. McIlroy commented about his drop in the rankings,
“It’s not nice to drop out. Over three years in the top ten, you sort of get comfortable there. Hopefully, I can get myself back up into the territory I have been at the last few years.”
Darren Clarke struggled again yesterday with his game and has put himself under pressure to make the cut as he signed for a four over par 76. Padraig Harrington will be happier with his performance as the Dubliner managed to finish as he started on level par. The Wells Fargo Championship continues today and expect tighter pin placements as cut day will sort out the contenders from the pretenders.
Fergal Cantwell, Pundit Arena.