McIlroy "encouraged" but it's Day who claims Wells Fargo

McIlroy "encouraged" but it's Day who claims Wells Fargo
 Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Jason Day turned the dreaded Green Mile into a Sunday afternoon stroll when he birdied the 16th and 17th en route to a two-shot win in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.

Bogeys at the 13th and 14th left a wobbling former world No 1 tied the lead with 21-year-old star in-waiting Aaron Wise on 10-under par. But he brilliantly birdied the treacherous 16th from 11 feet after a 380-yard drive, then hit the pin with a seven-iron at the 230-yard 17h and slotted in a three-footer.

“I had no idea where the ball was going today, especially off the tee," said Day, who got up and down for par at the 18th,  shooting 69 to win by two shots from Wise, who shot 68, on 12-under. "My short game stood the test. This is probably one of the best wins I have ever had."

Rory McIlroy closed with a level par 71 to finish tied 16th on three-under and said he was relieved it’s Rickie Fowler and not him who's been grouped with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in The Players at Sawgrass this week.

Insisting that he saw “enough good” in his game alongside Fowler yesterday to be encouraged heading to Sawgrass, he said he'd be comfortable with Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, clearly thrilled to avoid the Tiger-Phil hoopla.

“I’m happy to be that side of the draw," joked the 29-year-old, who is now eighth behind Day in the world rankings. “I was talking to Rickie about it out there. He’s going to have quite the experience.”

Woods failed to make a birdie in a three-over 74 that left him tied 55th on three-over but despite two late bogeys, West Waterford’s Seamus Power shot a one-under 70 to tie for 27th with Graeme McDowell, who shot 72, on one-under par, picking up $52,360.

Neither Power nor McDowell has qualified for Sawgrass but Shane Lowry heads there with a little more spring in his step after he signed off with a two-under 69 to finish tied 34th on level par, earning $37,249