McIlroy, currently ranked second behind Luke Donald, defeated Miguel Angel Jimenez 3 & 1 to become one of the eight survivors in the year's first World Golf Championship event.
Donald lost in the first round of this tournament and McIlroy can pass him in the rankings by winning this event. McIlroy and third-ranked Lee Westwood are the only two among the world's top 12 players still alive in the tournament.
McIlroy will face Song-Moon Bae in the quarterfinals after Bae defeated John Senden 1-up. Westwood's quarterfinal opponent will be Martin Laird, who disposed of Paul Lawrie 3 & 1.
If McIlroy and Westwood both win Saturday, they will meet in the afternoon semifinals. The 36-hole championship match will be played Sunday.
Kuchar scored an impressive 4 & 3 win over fourth-ranked Martin Kaymer in the third round while Mahan was knocking off Steve Stricker by the same score.
Hanson rolled over Brandt Snedeker 5 & 3 and Wilson posted a surprisingly easy 4 & 3 victory over Dustin Johnson.