Angel Cabrera never knows when he’s going to play his best golf. This could be shaping up as one of those weeks at the Wells Fargo Championship.
On a Quail Hollow course that lets the Argentine hit driver on just about every hole, two exquisite short-game shots late in the second round carried Cabrera to a 3-under 69 on Friday and a share of the lead with Martin Flores going into the weekend.
It was the first time Cabrera had at least a share of the 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour since the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont. The last time he was part of the lead after any round was in the 2013 Masters.
With one of the most powerful and reliable swings in golf, the mystery about the 44-year-old Argentine is that his only two on the PGA Tour are majors — Oakmont for the U.S. Open, and Augusta National when he won the Masters in a playoff in 2009.
“I’m of course happy to be in position to win this tournament, but every time I go out and play, I’m hoping to win,” Cabrera said. “It’s difficult to know exactly when you’re going to play well. I don’t think anybody knows when they’re going to play well.”
Flores couldn’t ask for a better start, and his finish wasn’t too bad, either. Flores began his second round birdie-eagle when he holed out with a wedge from 105 yards in the 11th fairway. He added a pair of birdies late in his round for a 68.
They were at 9-under 135, one shot ahead of Justin Rose, who had a 67.
Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy went the other direction.
Mickelson, one shot out of the lead to start the second round and perfect conditions ahead of him, seemed to miss every putt that he made on Thursday. He had a 75 and fell seven shots out of the lead.
“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.”
So did McIlroy, starting with a three-putt from 18 feet on the second hole. He drove behind a tree on the third hole and hit into a bush on the fourth hole, both times taking a penalty drop and making double bogey. He wound up with a 76 and made the cut on the number at 1-over 145.
McIlroy missed five putts from 6 feet or closer.
“I just didn’t have my game today,” McIlroy said. “Off the tee it was good. I didn’t get the ball close enough. My putting didn’t feel as comfortable as it did yesterday.”
The 16th hole sized up his day. McIlroy blasted a tee shot beyond the crest of the hill, a 375-yard drive that left him a simple wedge to the green. He wound up making bogey when he missed from just inside 4 feet.