2024 Wells Fargo Championship leaderboard: Rory McIlroy still close to leader

In the middle of Triple Crown season, it seems apropos that there’s a horse running out in front at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Xander Schauffele leads big after a 67 in the second round Friday to go with his 64 in the first. At 11 under he’s up four on Rory McIlroy and Jason Day going to the weekend and looking to avenge his loss to Wyndham Clark here one year ago.

He’s also looking for his first PGA Tour victory since the summer of 2022 when he won the Travelers Championship and Scottish Open just ahead of the 150th Open Championship.

Schauffele looks tremendous so far, but as he noted after the round, it’s only Friday and the thoroughbreds are thundering behind him with 36 holes to play. It won’t take another 64-67 showing on Saturday and Sunday to win this tournament, but it might still take something special to hold off McIlroy, Day and a host of others.

Let’s take a closer look at Round 2 and what to expect this weekend.

The leader

1. Xander Schauffele (-11)

There it is, right out in front of him. Data Golf says he has a 57% chance of winning the tournament, and with a four-shot lead and the way he’s hitting it, you may even say that should be higher.

Schauffele has gained over six (!!) strokes on approach play over the first two rounds. Six!

“I mean, the ball’s going sort of where I’m looking most of the time, which usually helps us pros feel more comfortable,” he said. “The swing feels and things of that nature may still feel a little foreign, but hitting good shot after good shot in crosswinds and some tough spots definitely gives you more confidence.”

But it’s not strokes gained that have been the problem for him. It’s winning. Since the week of the 2022 Open Championship, Schauffele is one of five golfers who have averaged at least 2.0 strokes gained per round or better. The other four — Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay — have a combined 19 wins. Schauffele has zero.

“I played some really good golf I’d say in the last year-ish,” he said. “I haven’t won in a couple years, but I’ve definitely been close. Just got to really stay present in those tough spots that have got me in the past.”

Other contenders

T2. Rory McIlroy, Jason Day (-7)
T4. Taylor Moore, Sungjae Im (-6)
6. Collin Morikawa (-5)

McIlroy has been excellent in his first two rounds at Quail Hollow, a course where he’s won three times. He’s fourth off the tee (which is normal for him) but more importantly seventh in approach play, which is not. He’s one of just two golfers in the top 13 losing strokes with the putter, and only one golfer is ahead of him.

He agreed that things are beginning to click ahead of the second major of the year next week.

“Putting in the time [helped turn things around],” he said. “After the Players I went to see Butch [Harmon] for that day just to sort of get a couple of ideas. I think just the combination of going to see Butch, getting a couple of ideas from him, working hard at it, sort of trying to rekindle some feelings that I’ve had in the past, it all sort of started to click or come together in New Orleans. I felt like I played very well there over the weekend. These two days have just been a continuation of that.”

Spieth’s wrist still a problem

After hitting his tee shot on the 12th hole, Jordan Spieth turned to somebody (probably caddie Michael Greller) and said something about it “hurting bad.” The camera then cut to him holding his left wrist, which he has intimated throughout the year is a recurring problem. Spieth was especially open about this at the Masters in April, and it would explain some of his up and down performance throughout the year. With him in contention this week at 3 under and with the career grand slam on deck next week at the PGA Championship, it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.

Jason Day’s fit

Forget the contention, what about the outfit? Golf Channel’s Frank Nobilo said he looked like the Great Gatsby, and everyone on golf Twitter seems to have an opinion? Personally, I know it’s probably objectively cool, but I could never in 100 years pull off a look like this.

Jason Day’s clothing turned heads Friday.

Getty Images

2024 Wells Fargo Championship updated odds, picks

Odds via Sportsline consensus

  • Xander Schauffele: 4/5
  • Rory McIlroy: 18/5
  • Jason Day: 12-1
  • Collin Morikawa: 22-1
  • Sungjae Im: 22-1
  • Ben An: 28-1

Books are essentially saying that this is a two-horse race. I loved Morikawa at 6 under until he bogeyed the last to fall six back of Schauffele. Still, at 22-1, that’s not a bad number. McIlroy, though, is probably the play if you trust that his iron game is truly back where it needs to be to win.

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