Rory McIlroy enjoyed a belated birthday present with a superb second round of 66 in the Wells Fargo Championship left him just two shots off the lead.

McIlroy is seeking an eighth top-10 finish in 10 appearances at Quail Hollow, a venue which provided him a first PGA Tour title in 2010 and another in 2015 following a course record 61 in round three.

That looked a tall order following an opening 72, but McIlroy – who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Tuesday – shot up the leaderboard with the aid of six birdies and a solitary bogey to post a halfway total of four under par.

LEADERBOARD

Shane Lowry finished two-over par after a round of 71. A double bogey on 15, after earlier bogeys on the first two holes, put the Clara golfer at risk of not being around for the weekend.

However both he and Seamus Power (one over) made the cut and will tee it up this morning.

"The one thing that I was really happy about coming in here this week was my iron play, felt like I really found something last week," said McIlroy, who is 15th in the world rankings, his lowest position since November 2009, and missed the cut in the Masters last month.

"I didn't get a chance to show it yesterday because I wasn’t finding the fairway very much, but today, just having some more opportunities to hit good iron shots and give myself birdie chances, I was able to show it a bit today and it was nice.

"When you play the way I played through that stretch in March and into April, you’re going to feel like you’re not as close (to playing well ) as you probably are.

"But I worked hard after Augusta. I took a week off and reset, which I needed, but then I put my head down and worked hard and at least felt better about everything coming in here."

England's Matt Wallace is firmly in contention for a first PGA Tour title after carding a stellar second round score of four-under 67.

The 31-year-old picked up five birdies and just one bogey on Friday to take a share of the lead at six under, alongside Americans Gary Woodland and Patrick Rodgers.

Overnight leader Phil Mickelson was far off the pace he set on Thursday, following up an opening round 64 with a dismal four-over 75 to fall back to equal-10th.