McIlroy seven back after stunning 65

He may need help from the leaders but Rory McIlroy gave himself a fighting chance of challenging for victory in the Wells Fargo Championship when he fired eight birdies in a stunning seven under 65 at Quail Hollow.

The time spent working on his putting after Friday's disappointing second round 76 paid off handsomely as he had just 25 putts in perfect morning conditions, eventually finishing the day seven shots behind leader JB Holmes on six under.

“I putted much better today and I did some work on the putting green last night after I played, and it worked well for me again today,” said McIlroy, who shot 16 under on the weekend to come from the cut line to win in 2010.

“I think I figured out what I needed to do out there, and it was a really solid round of golf and it gets me back into the tournament.

“I also didn’t hit too many loose shots out there today as I did yesterday.  I had a couple that put me in trouble yesterday and it was much better today.  Anytime that I give myself a chance for birdie, the putt either went or looked like it was going in.”

Having shot 62 in 2010 to win his maiden title, McIlroy may need something similar on Sunday. It's also his 25th birthday.

Phil Mickelson blasted a 63 to set the target at 11 under par but like McIlroy, Holmes dropped his only shot of the day at the ninth as he carded a 66 to lead by one on 13 under from Flores, who bogeyed the last for a 69.

McIlroy pumped his fist when he holed a slick nine footer for par at the last to go one better than in 2010, when he carded a 66 on Saturday and then romped to victory with that closing 62.

World No 11 McIlroy is in a 11-man tie for 11th place, which means he will almost certainly need something in the mid to low 60s to have chance of winning for the first time in the US since he captured the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick in September 2012 - 602 days ago.