CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- For the growing legion of Rory McIlroy supporters, take solace not in the score he posted on Thursday, but by what preceded it.
McIlroy, the defending champion at the Wells Fargo Championship after firing a scintillating 62 in the final round last year, was 13 shots higher in his opening round, but there nonetheless was a positive development this week on another front.
McIlroy, whose putting has been increasingly critiqued over the past few months, sought help from flat-stick guru and two-time major winner Dave Stockton this week at the Quail Hollow Club. The two worked together on Monday and Tuesday.
The work wasn't exactly major, but it was designed to help implement a bit more feel into McIlroy's hot-and-cold putting touch. If McIlroy becomes a more consistent putter, especially under pressure, the top guns had better duck. He's already ranked No. 6 in the world and he just turned 22 on Wednesday.
"He helped me more with my routine without really getting into the stroke at all," McIlroy said.
Stockton and his son, Dave Jr., have become the hottest short-game guys in the business, working to help a slew of players on the greens, including Phil Mickelson, J.B. Holmes and too many other prominent tour winners to mention.