Day leads as McIlroy and McDowell seek confidence in Charlotte
Rory McIlroy speaks after his third round 66

Rory McIlroy speaks after his third round 66

Jason Day is eyeing his 12th PGA Tour win but Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell have their eyes on bigger picture after encouraging third rounds in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.

As Day shot a four-under 67 to lead by a shot from Nick Watney on 10-under par, McIlroy shot 66 and McDowell a 67 with a double bogey at the 18th to inject a little more confidence into their games.

McIlroy admitted that he's struggling with several parts of his game, especially his driving, but believes he's closer to finding it as he prepares for Sawgrass.

"I just played a bit better, putting the ball in play, putted better as well," said the Co Down man, who is tied for 16th on three-under after a disappointing three-putt bogey at the 18th.

"Still don't feel all that comfortable with my game, to be honest. Sort of working on a few things. But yeah, it was a good round and it gives me half a chance going into tomorrow."

Like Day, McIlroy knows he has to start winning regularly to regain his place as world No 1 but his game is not where it needs to be and he confessed that his 66 flattered him yesterday.

"I'm just not that comfortable with anything right now," he said. "I'm trying really hard to hit it in the fairway and then trying really hard to get my irons online. 

"It's all just a little bit of a struggle. So trying to piece it together, but if I can do a little bit of practice this afternoon, yeah, hold it together tomorrow and then try and make some improvements before next week."

Admitting that he's struggling not to go left off the tee with the driver, he said: "I usually drive the ball so well and it's something I'm really struggling with.

"I'm having to think really hard over the ball, a few key thoughts or whatever. Yeah, need to drive the ball better and hopefully the rest of the game sort of matches up from there."

Putting his erratic form in perspective, he said: "You go through it. You have bad days like yesterday, you have better days like today, and it's all about managing your game. 

"You're not going to be on every week and just making those little improvements. Think you need to be an eternal optimist in golf and keep looking ahead and looking forward and looking forward to the next week."

Peter Uihlein took advantage of easier conditions to card a nine-under 62 to move up to tied third on seven-under with Bryson DeChambeau, Paul Casey and Aaron Wise.

But it was also an encouraging day for McDowell, who like Seamus Power, is not in the field for The Players.

The Portrush man is trying to regain confidence slowly but surely and while he drove into the hazard at the 18th and took six to share 25th on two-under, he sees signs that his game is turning around.

Power shot 68 to move up 29 places to tied 40th on level par while Shane Lowry is tied 59th on two-over after a 71.

As for Tiger Woods, he shot 68 and enters the final round in 31st place, nine shots behind Day.

“My ball striking's been fine. I just haven’t made anything,” Woods said.