Published Friday, 08 June 2012
Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the par 3 8th. (© Getty)
McIlroy came into the event on the back of three straight missed cuts but opened with a solid round of 68 at TPC Southwind.
The Holywood golfer then shot a five-under second round of 65 to go a shot clear on top of the leaderboard at seven under on Friday.
McIlroy is returning to form just a week before starting his title defence at the US Open in San Francisco.
American trio JB Holmes, Jeff Maggert and Kevin Stadler are one shot behind, locked together on six under.
McIlroy parred the opening hole and then picked up a birdie on the second before carding an eagle three on the third.
Six straight pars followed to complete an outward half of 32 and keep the world number two right in contention.
His form was a mixed bag after the turn, with another birdie at 11 before back-to-back bogies at the next two holes.
The 23-year-old responded in perfect fashion, picking up shots in three of the last four holes to end on a high.
Speaking after his round, McIlroy told PGAtour.com: "I hit a lot of good iron shots today. I feel like my ball striking is coming back to me.
"I saw some positive signs out there, so I'm just happy with how I played. I held two good putts on 17 and 18, which was nice. I'm happy with how I'm playing and with how I'm controlling the golf ball."
Irishman Padraig Harrington was the next best European in the field, ending in a four-way tie for eighth after shooting 68 for the second day in a row to close three off the lead.
But Graeme McDowell is heading home after a grim 75.