Published Sunday, 06 May 2012
Rory McIlroy hits a tee shot on the 16th hole at the Quail Hollow Club (© Getty)
The Northern Irishman, who needs a top-seven finish to dethrone Luke Donald, birdied seven of his first 11 holes on Saturday - dropping a shot on another - to move 12 under par.
Local boy Webb Simpson retook the lead heading into the final day after shooting a three-under 69 to lead by one from fellow Americans Ryan Moore and DA Points on 14 under.
But McIlroy had the day's most eye-catching round, as his six-under 66 took him to two shots off the lead.
"When you get off to a good start like that, you birdie the first three holes, it gives you momentum early, and it's something you can just go with," the 2010 champion told www.espn.com.
"I think that was the key to the round today, to get off to that kind of start."
McIlroy, who hit a course-record 62 in 2010, also had a stroke of luck when his tee shot on the 18th hit a spectator on the backside and rebounded towards the fairway.