'I just think the Open and the US Open were the biggest tournaments in the world'.
But he hit a poor wedge that led to bogey on the par-5 10th, atoned for that with a birdie on the par-5 15th, only to give back that shot with a three-putt bogey from 15 feet on No. 16.
Mickelson had a 64, his lowest score this season. He then added birdies at the 12th and 13th - failed to birdie the two easiest holes on the back, the 14th and 15th - and added another at the 17th. "In fact, I used one of Rickie's putters today", Thomas said.
Peter Malnati and Tiger Woods both had reason to celebrate on the ninth green at Quail Hollow at the end of their rounds.
After a promising three-under-par 68 in the first round, Ogilvy shot a disastrous 10-over-par 81 to miss the cut.
"Quail Hollow PGA is definitely a lot harder not only because it's a major, but because it's a different grass", said Day, who could move back into the top 10 in the World Ranking with a victory on Sunday.
"I got lucky on that Saturday, that 65 was as good as I could have scored". But I'm just taking tomorrow that I've got to try and extend that lead every single time I'm up against someone. "I feel like I'm hitting the ball well enough and just trending in the right direction for next week". Instead? A first putt that raced nearly 9 feet past the pin, setting Woods up for a three-putt bogey and a complete halt to his momentum.
His 64 matches his lowest score since opening the 2016 Open with a 63 at Royal Troon (he shot 64 previous year in the final round at the Greenbrier) and he did it without a bogey.
"I love this place", said McIlroy of a venue where he has won on the PGA Tour - in 2010 and 2015.
Alone in second is Nick Watney, who shot a five-under 66 to get to eight-under 205 for the tournament. "I know that there's a bunch of players in front of me that are trying to do the exact same thing and the guys behind me are trying to do the same thing".
If there was one disappointment for McIlroy it was perhaps that he didn't capitalise fully on a positive start that saw him pick up three shots in his first six holes.
"I didn't actually see him until about 10 minutes before our tee time and he said he was going with it", Fowler said.
He loves golf. He also is a father - his son was born in October - and he would be just as happy in real estate development with a few friends in Fort Worth, Texas, than chasing around birdies and bogeys from one coast to the other.