Rory leads after Quail Hollow record 61

Rory McIlroy set a course record by shooting 11-under-par 61 on Saturday to take a four-stroke lead over Webb Simpson after three rounds of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C.

McIlroy, No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings, collected nine birdies in a span of 10 holes through No. 16 and had 11 in all while breaking the record of 62 he set while winning the tournament for his first PGA Tour victory in 2010. Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe tied the mark last year.

“I could see that guys were going low before I started and knew the course was get-able,” said McIlroy, who won the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship two weeks ago in San Francisco. “I saw some of the flags were up front on the front nine and I got off to a great start.

“You never really go out and think you are going to do something like that, but I was thinking 59 from the 13th hole on. I bailed out on my tee shot on the 17th hole (and made the first of his two closing pars), but obviously I’m delighted with my score.”

McIlroy’s 11 birdies broke the tournament record of 10 set by Retief Goosen of South Africa in the third round in 2006.

Simpson, who lives in Charlotte and is a member at Quail Hollow, was tied for the 36-hole lead with Robert Streb and shot 68 in the third round with a 21-foot eagle putt on the 15th hole, but lost seven strokes to McIlroy.

Streb posted a 71 and was seven shots back in solo third, while Brendan Steele had a 68 and was another stroke back in a tie for fourth with rookie Patrick Rodgers, who came in at 70.

Justin Thomas, another rookie, carded a 65 and was nine shots behind in a tie for sixth with Carlos Ortiz of Mexico, who totaled 66, and Will MacKenzie, who finished at 70.

Phil Mickelson was in the top five before hitting his drive on the 18th hole into a creek on his way to a triple bogey 7 that left him 10 shots back in a tie for ninth after a 71.

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