In the biggest post-Masters PGA Tour event to date with a field that is not short on big names and huge stars, Peter Malnati leads the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship at the 36-hole midway point. Malnati followed his 67 on Thursday with a 68 on Friday to get to 7 under overall. 

Malnati leads the field in strokes gained putting through two rounds at Quail Hollow.

"The biggest thing that's different this week than the last couple years for me is that I'm more relaxed," said Malnati on Golf Channel. "I'm feeling good. I'm confident in what I've been doing, and I'm letting it show on the course. I expect a lot of myself as a putter so I'm thinking about the couple I missed out there today."

Malnati's short game was world class on Friday, and his final hole of the day epitomized that as he got up and down for par from a wicked spot where he had to barely get the ball out of the bunker and trundle it down near the hole. He made the putt coming back for par, and he'll get a Saturday afternoon tee time as his reward.

He'll be chased, however, by some absolute studs. Jason Day (-6), Paul Casey (-5) and Charl Schwartzel (-5) are all hot on Malnati's heels as we head to the weekend at this event. 

Here are five other takeaways from Round 2 at Quail Hollow.

1. Jason Day surges: The Australian is your new favorite after his 4-under 67 on Friday. The most encouraging part for Day is that he did it with his driver and irons rather than simply being buoyed with his putter. Day is in the top 10 in strokes gained tee to green so far, and his three birdies and an eagle to just one bogey on Friday was as impressive a round as we saw all day. A win here on the weekend would give him two in the first five months of 2018 and set him up for a monster summer.

2. Rory's missed opportunity: Rory McIlroy started the day just one stroke back of a big group tied for second place. He went out and shot a 5-over 76 on his birthday and barely sneaked inside the cut line. The tournament, a tournament he has excelled at, was there for the taking for him, and he stalled out. That happens, of course, but it feels like a half step back for somebody who has had a terrific first half of the year. It's probably worth noting that McIlroy made the cut on the number at this tournament in 2010 and closed 66-62 for the victory.

3. John Peterson back to real estate? With his future potentially on the line after a 65 in Round 1, John Peterson shot a 77 in Round 2 to go to even par on the tournament. He's said in recent weeks that he'll start his post-life career in real estate if he doesn't retain his PGA Tour card. His story is one to keep an eye on over the weekend.

4. Course is playing tough: Quail Hollow is playing about 1.5 strokes over par so far this week. If that number stands, it would rank as the second toughest course on the PGA Tour schedule so far (only PGA National, host of the Honda Classic, has been tougher). The exciting part of that (well, for us) is that it results in a clumped-up leaderboard where anything can (and probably will) happen.

5. JT used Rickie Fowler's putter: Justin Thomas shot a 2-under 69 on Friday to get inside the top 30 on the leaderboard. Why is that noteworthy? Well, he was using one of his playing partner's -- Rickie Fowler -- putters. And it worked, for the most part. Thomas moved from outside the top 100 in strokes gained putting in Round 1 to inside the top 60. He should borrow a different putter every round to see if he can keep moving up.

CBS Sports was with you the entire way Friday updating this story with the latest scores, analysis and highlights from Quail Hollow, particularly during McIlroy's second round. If you are unable to view the live updates below, please click here.

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