Rory McIlroy returned to his very best yesterday at the Wells Fargo Championship in America at Quail Hollow. The Northern Irishman's third round saw him shoot a career-low 61, which was one shot less than the previous record for the course (also set by him) from 2010. Better still for his chances of taking the title itself, his scintillating form hoisted him up to 18 under par overall after 54 holes, which left him four shots ahead of the rest of the field.

Recent form backed up by solid opening rounds

The world number one golfer has performed solidly if unspectacularly in recent weeks, including a tidy joint eighth place finish last weekend at Sawcross in the Players Championship.

He had moved steadily up the leaders' board during the first two rounds at Quail Hollow, after competitive rounds of 70 and 67 had left him just three shots off the lead. The 26-year-old could clearly feel that his game was clicking into gear and sensed that he had a real chance of lifting the title at the weekend.

McIlroy made his move

The joint overnight leaders, the American pair of Webb Simpson and Robert Streb, were overhauled by McIlroy during his 11 under third round as he finally found his 'A' game. Just like a top snooker player is quickly aware of the possibility of a maximum break during a frame, McIlroy was also keenly aware of the possibility of him shooting a record-equalling score of 59.

That figure is a magical and revered score on the PGA tour, last achieved by the American Jim Furyk back in 2013.

Record score on his mind

McIlroy told reporters afterwards that he was "thinking about (shooting) 59 from the 14th teebox," but had to settle for two pars instead of the two birdies that were required. He senses that the course allows him to get on a roll and score well, something that the galleries were fully aware of during his third round demonstration.

The front nine was impressive enough, as he carded 5 birdies and took just 31 shots. Even that was surpassed on the final none holes though, as an amazing 6 further birdies came his way.

Best of the rest

Despite missing the single round record of 59, he still looks to be well on course to clinch the championship itself as they enter the final 18 holes of Golf. Simpson is his closest challenger on 14 under, with Streb now a further three shots back on 11 under. McIlroy will also aim to better the current tournament record from 2008, when Anthony Kim took the title on 16 under.