Late slips halt Rory McIlroy charge at Quail Hollow

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Defending champion Rory McIlroy delivered an improved performance on the second day of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte as he finished six shots off the lead.

McIlroy, looking for his third triumph at Quail Hollow, started Friday eight shots off the top having shot a first-round 73.

The world number three went on to cut the gap to American leader Andrew Loupe with a three under par 69.

The Northern Irishman was in even better shape after 16 holes, having registered five birdies, plus a chipped-in eagle on the seventh.

But the 27-year-old then endured a frustrating finish as he posted his third and fourth bogeys of the round.

Loupe, who led alongside fellow American Steve Wheatcroft after an opening round 65, followed up with a 71 which put him on his own on eight under, a shot clear of Roberto Castro.

Chesson Hadley and Mark Hubbard were a shot further adrift, while Phil Mickelson moved into contention with a round of 70. He was among six Americans on five under par, with Wheatcroft one of them.

Mickelson produced a 15-foot putt for a birdie on the 18th, a hole which has not been kind to him in the past despite eight top-10 finishes - one of which came in 2010, when he was runner-up to McIlroy.