After the second round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, Phil Mickelson came through the field to take a two- shot lead.
That was enough to move him clear as the players who had shared a seven- way tie for first after the first round struggled to maintain their form.
Mickelson began the second round with two birdies and, after making the turn at four- under par, enjoyed back- to- back birdies on the 14th and 15th to end the round at 5- under- 67.
Nick Watney was the best of the player who had shared a seven- way tie coming into the second round. He joined a three- way tie for second with a round of 70, along with Scott Gardiner and George McNeill, while Rory McIlroy was in a five- way tie for fifth, three shots off the leader.
McIlroy, tackled the back nine of the course first and briefly found himself atop the leaderboard but he would have two bogeys before making the turn.
He savaged his round with three birdies on the way back home to sign for a 71.
The world No. 2 admitted he struggled with his putting before finding a feel for the course.
“The green were a lot faster today than they happened to be yesterday afternoon,” McIlroy said on PGATour.com. “It took a little bit of time to get adjusted.
“But I think this week it’s all about fairways and greens. If you can do that, not every putt’s going to drop, but I think if you’ve given yourself the chances, you take a few of them and you’ll be right there.”
Rod Pampling, Jason Kokrak, Derek Ernst and Lee Westwood joined McIlroy at six under, with Westwood in fine form despite battling a chest infection as he carded a 68 to move up from joint 18th.
Westwood’s day would have been even better, if not for bogeys on the seventh and 12th holes.
However, in his last five attempts, it was his best round at Quail Hollow and Westwood concluded he had earned some rest after a tough day under the weather.
“I just won’t do too much practice this afternoon,” Westwood said. “I’ll just go back to the room and lie down, really.”
Daniel Summerhays and Nate Smith, who both surrendered leads late in their opening rounds, fell off the pace with a disappointing second round.
Summerhays slipped to joint 13th after a round of 73, while Smith was one shot worse off in joint 21st.