Winless thus far this season Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood are converging on happiness at the Wells Fargo Championship. Overnight leader McIlroy needed a back-nine recovery to stabilise his challenge with a 71 after starting with a bogey.
Westwood had a share of the lead before finding water at the seventh hole (his 16th). The bogey stalled his march but a 68 took him alongside McIlroy on six under par and with a shot at the winner’s enclosure tomorrow. Last year Westwood enjoyed his best weekend at Quail Hollow shooting 68 and 66 to finish fifth. A repeat could well see him home in his first event as a 40-year-old.
McIlroy said his ball striking is as good as it has been all year after correcting a minor swing issue spotted at Augusta. “It was only a tiny little thing but it’s made a good difference. I think it’s big strides because my game wasn’t where it should have been at all at the start of the year,” he said.
“I got into a couple of bad habits on my swing, and it just took me a little bit of time to get out of them. Week by week it’s been getting better. I played well at Augusta, apart from a five-hole stretch on the Saturday, and had a shot at San Antonio the week before. Now that I feel like I’m swinging it well, this is the sort of golf I expect to play.”
Twelve-year-old Chinese prodigy Ye Wocheng’s debut on the European Tour ended with a second successive 79 at the Volvo China Open. “I played very well on the front nine, so I was very happy at the beginning,” said Ye, the youngest to ever contest a European Tour event.
“I was a bit less nervous today, which is why I played well at the start. But then on the back nine I struggled a little bit, which was a bit disappointing. Overall I’m still pretty happy with how I played.
“Golf is a hard game to play at this level of competition and on these courses, but I feel I will soon be ready for it. I’m looking forward to the next time I can play out here.”
There was better news for 16-year-old Dou Ze-Cheng, who shot a 72 to make the cut, the seventh youngest to do so on the European Tour, and the youngest at this tournament.