(Reuters) - Home-town favorite Webb Simpson birdied the 17th hole to break a logjam at the top and seize a one-stroke lead going into Sunday’s final round of the Wells Fargo Championship, as Rory McIlroy charged into contention with a 66.
Simpson, who lives near the Quail Hollow golf course at Charlotte, North Carolina, carded a three-under-par 69 for a total of 202 to lead second-placed countrymen Ryan Moore and D.A. Points as he chases his third PGA Tour title.
Northern Irishman McIlroy, who could regain his world number one ranking this week, is tied for fourth with American overnight leader Nick Watney, two shots behind Simpson.
Simpson cautiously greeted the chance to win on his home course, mindful of 10 rivals within five strokes of his lead.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” he told reporters. “I look at the leaderboard and there’s so many great players within a shot or two.”
“So I know it’s going to be a tough day. I know I can go out and shoot four-under and get beat by two or three.”
“If conditions are right you can get a string of birdies going,” said Simpson, who bought a home at Quail Hollow 18 months ago.
“You saw McIlroy a few years ago shoot 10-under,” added the American of the 2010 winner who posted a 62 to seal the title.
“Knowing that, my expectations aren’t too high ... Obviously I want to go out there and try to win, but all I can do is kind of control what we’re doing.”
McIlroy blistered his front nine with five birdies, and despite undoing some of the work with a bogey on 16, is well positioned to repeat his 2010 triumph.
“I’ve had some great experiences on this golf course,” McIlroy said. “hopefully I can create a few more.”
Reporting By Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Ian Ransom