CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Martin Flores could not have asked for a better start to the Wells Fargo Championship. A strong finish is what gave him the lead Friday.
Flores started birdie-eagle when he holed out from the 11th fairway, and then he took advantage of two scoring holes late in his second round for a 4-under 68 that gave him a one-shot lead over Justin Rose among the early starters.
Phil Mickelson went the wrong direction with a 75. Rory McIlroy, playing in the afternoon, was headed that direction.
Mickelson was one shot out of the lead when he arrived at Quail Hollow to find cool, calm and perfect conditions for scoring. He wound up missing all the putts he was making on Thursday and walked off the course in the middle of the pack, seven shots behind Flores.
"I can't believe the difference in putting from yesterday to today," Mickelson said. "Yesterday, I saw every ball go in the hole. And today I couldn't get them to fall and was three-putting, which is funny because the greens today were so perfect. ... I struggled today. I don't have any great reason. It didn't feel far off.
"I just struggled getting the ball in the hole."
Flores was at 9-under 135, which would be his first lead going into the weekend if it stands. Angel Cabrera, the 18-hole leader who opened with a 6-under 66, was among those playing in the afternoon.
McIlroy was a late starter, too, and hopes of contending quickly shifted to hopes of making the cut. He missed a pair of 5-footers early in his round — a bogey and a double bogey — and then added another double bogey with a shot that sailed well over the fourth green.
Rose played in the same group with Mickelson and fared much better with a 67 that will at least give him a late tee time on Saturday. Rose ended his round with a 10-foot par putts, which made him feel just as good as the four birdies and eagle he made earlier in the day.