CHARLOTTE North Carolina Justin Rose's hopes of repeating as U.S. Open champion next month got a timely boost as he moved to within a stroke of the clubhouse lead in the second round of the Wells Fargo Championship on Friday.
The Englishman, who spent much of the year recovering from tendinitis in his right shoulder, showed there is little wrong with his game as he carded a five-under-par 67 on a cool morning at Quail Hollow.
"Obviously you can never win it on Thursday and Friday, you can only lose it, so two solid days put me in good position for the weekend," Rose, who will defend his U.S. Open title at nearby Pinehurst No. 2 next month, told reporters.
Rose is eight-under 136 at the halfway mark while American Martin Flores (68) led on nine under after a second round that included an eagle, four birdies and a double-bogey.
"Those chip-in eagles, they get you going," Rose said, referring to a 70-footer he holed from off the green at the par-five 15th.
"I did everything well in spells today (and) finished with a nice putt for par at the last hole, which made the day feel incredibly positive."
Phil Mickelson backtracked with a 75 to fall seven strokes off the pace, while overnight leader Angel Cabrera had a late tee time.
World number 10 Rose has not won since notching his first major title at Merion last June, and is still playing his way back into form after being hampered by a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined for the first six weeks this year.
"I've had a lot of stop-starts this year and I just felt like I needed to get toned and sharp, and that's beginning to show up," said Rose.
"It would be nice to go back (to the U.S. Open) with the confidence of having just won a tournament."
Flores, who made his eagle when he holed out from 105 yards at the par-four 11th hole, has put himself in good position to record his first win on tour but refuses to look too far ahead.
"I've tried to refuse to think about winning," said Flores. "I just try to play my best each day and be very, very patient, because a lot of times in the past I've tried to be too perfect and for some reason this sport doesn't really work out that way."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)