Power surges into contention as McIlroy loses lead after late bogey blight
Rory McIlroy was left to rue late mistakes as Seamus Power roared into contention for the $7.7 million Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.
The West Waterford man (32) needs to finish solo second to guarantee his Major championship debut in the US PGA at Bethpage, and he was just six shots behind clubhouse leader Jason Dufner on five-under after a second round 68.
A bogey at his final hole left him tied for sixth with world No 2 Justin Rose and just a shot adrift of four-time Major winner McIlroy (below), who dropped three shots in his last two holes to turn a potential 66 into a 70.
"It's a funny game," said McIlroy, who double-bogeyed the 345-yard eighth after taking five to get down from 55 yards before dropping another shot at the ninth. "I stood up here last night talking about that I got the most out of it yesterday and today it was the complete opposite - I turned a 66 into a 70."
The Holywood star, who celebrates his 30th birthday today, was tied for fourth on six-under with Patrick Reed, just five shots behind former PGA champion Dufner, who shot an eight-under 63 to lead by a shot from Joel Dahmen and Max Homa on 11-under par.
But Power is now hot on the heels of the leaders and after top-six finishes in his last two starts, he's gunning for a big week to secure his PGA Tour card.
"It was a very disappointing start to the season but two good weeks in a row and that changes your whole mentality," said Power, who missed 11 of his first 15 cuts before hooking up with Co Down coach Justin Parsons in March.
"All of a sudden things don't seem as hard. You have a little bit of confidence, you have that feel of being in contention the last couple of weeks, and it starts to feel more and more normal."
Ranked ninth for scrambling, he birdied the 10th and 15th, saved par from nine feet at the tough 18th to turn in two-under before making a monster, 70-footer for birdie at the first.
Power, who is hotly tipped to tee it up in the Irish Open at Lahinch, dropped a shot at the second but then birdied the short fourth and par-five seventh to join McIlroy on five-under before a pushed drive at the ninth cost him a shot.
Pádraig Harrington missed the cut after another dismal 75 to finish eight-over.
On the European Tour, Paul Dunne's rollercoaster season continued when an "upset stomach" forced him to pull out of the Volvo China Open in Shenzen.
The Greystones star (26) was six-over par for the tournament after three holes of his second round when he pulled out.
China's Wu Ashun added a 65 to his opening 66 to lead by two strokes on 13-under from Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen with last week's Trophee Hassan II winner Jorge Campillo lurking a shot further back.
At the Challenge de Espana, joint overnight leader Michael Hoey fell back to 36th on one-under after a 76, five shots behind leaders Sebastian Garcia, Martin Simonsen, Marcus Armitage and Rasmus Hojgaard.
Ruaidhri McGee shot 74 to make the cut on level par, but late mistakes saw Cormac Sharvin (72) and Robin Dawson (70) miss out by a shot.
On the Ladies European Tour, Leona Maguire closed with a 70 at the Emirates Club's Faldo Course to finish tied for fifth on seven under in the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic, three shots behind Spain's Nuria Iturrios.
The Spanish star, who was joined in the lead by the Cavan star after just seven holes, pulled away on the back nine, carding a 71 to pip Germany's Olivia Cowan by one stroke on 10-under par and clinch back-to-back wins.
Leona picked up €8,529 to move up to 23rd in the LET Order of Merit and third in the Rookie of Year race as twin sister Lisa earned €1,400 for 50th on 11-over after a 76.
Volvo China Open, Live, Sky Sports, 6.0am
Wells Fargo Championship, Live, Sky Sports, 6.0pm