Martin Flores parlayed a brilliant start and a solid finish into a 4-under-par 68 that tied Angel Cabrera of Argentina for the lead at the halfway point of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C.
The 32-year-old Flores, who has never won as a pro, started with a birdie on No. 10 and then wedged his second shot into the hole from 105 yards on the next hole. His only hiccup was a three-putt from 38 feet for a double-bogey 6 on the first hole, but he finished with birdies on Nos. 7 and 8 before scrambling for par on his final hole with a six-foot putt.
“It was a dream start, 3-under after two holes,” said Flores, who lives nearby in Dallas and played college golf at Oklahoma. “That got a lot of momentum going my way. I kept everything in control.
“The up-and-down on the last hole was nice. I hit a loose tee shot, and unfortunately that’s not uncommon for me. Any time you can make good saves like that it keeps the momentum going.”
Cabrera, the two-time major champion who held the first-round lead by himself with a 66, followed that up with a 69 that included four birdies in a span of five holes through No. 8 before he missed a 14-foot par putt while finishing on the ninth.
Justin Rose of England, the reigning U.S. Open champion, followed an opening 69 with a 67 that included a chip-in eagle on the 15th hole and was alone in third, one shot behind.
J.B. Holmes, who needs to finish 63rd or better to qualify for the Players Championship next week, sank a 17-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to complete a 67 and was three strokes back in a tie for fourth with Shawn Stefani, who had six birdies but made bogeys on the final holes of each nine in a 68.
Martin Kaymer of Germany, the 2010 PGA champion, posted a second straight 69 and was three shots back in a tie for sixth with 2009 Open champion Stewart Cink, who had a 70, and Kevin Kisner, who holed a five-foot eagle putt on the seventh en route to a 66.
Phil Mickelson, who started with a 67 as he searches for his first top-10 finish of the season, struggled to a 75 that included six bogeys and slid to a tie for 30th, while Rory McIlroy followed a 69 with a 76 to make the cut on the number in a tie for 59th.