Rory McIlroy took advantage of an outrageous run of luck in the second round of the BMW PGA Championship to move within striking distance of the DP World Tour’s premier event lead.
With his crazy drive on the par-five 17th seemingly headed out of bounds, his ball wobbled around pinball-fashion into the trees before settling back into the fairway. From there, the world No. 3 managed to make a birdie.
“It was a seven, clear four,” McIlroy said. Good luck allowed him to keep a bogey off his card, with a 65 taking him to 11-under and pacesetters Viktor Hovland (68) and Soren Kjeldsen (64).
McIlroy actually had a chance to make an eagle at the par-five 18th, but by then he had raised the spirits enough in the 25,000 sell-out crowd to make sure it was his name being chanted in the stands.
“Rory, Rory, Rory,” was heard as the somber atmosphere gave way to overwhelming positivity in McIlroy’s performance.
The Northern Irishman paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, whose passing was honored as Friday’s play was canceled and the £7m tournament reduced to 54 holes. “He was such a steady figure,” she said. “I saw a stat yesterday that he ascended the throne the year before Ben Hogan won the Open Championship.
“So it just shows you how long he’s been there and things he’s seen. That level of duty, and to do it with the dignity, dedication and grace that she has, she was an absolutely incredible woman.
“I was very lucky, I met her a few years ago and she couldn’t have been nicer. A wonderful moment for me. I have a picture of him in my house with my MBE which I am very proud of.”
McIlroy was adamant the Tour was right to continue the tournament. “I thought it was the right decision,” he said. “I don’t think we’re disrespecting anyone by playing. Hopefully we’re paying our respects and celebrating the Queen’s incredible life.”
At 9.50 a two minute silence was observed and players and players wore black ribbons. Kjeldsen was the star of the morning, bouncing off his bogey the first time to reel off seven birdies and an eagle.
“In an exciting location”
But it was inevitably McIlroy – in his first start since winning the £16m FedEx Cup last month – who stole the show, taking the fourth when he got from 205 yards to 10 feet and then taking three birdies before the last two holes. . McIlroy was suitably humble about his remarkable ricochet.
“I told Harry [Diamond, caddie] “It’s gone, throw me another ball,” but it hit some branches – I saw the big marks,” he said. “Bat [Horschel] he said to me “Who did you pay to throw the ball out there? Where’s your wallet?’ I told him, “It’s too heavy – I put it in the cupboard.” It was a three shot swing.
“Between that and my pitching, it puts me in an exciting position. I haven’t played any LIV events [contested over 54 holes] but i’m looking forward to how i feel. There are so many guys at the top of the leaderboard, it will be a sprint to the finish.”
In addition to Thomas Detry (65) and Rafael Cabrera Bello (65) along with McIlroy, Francesco Molinari (65) and Shane Lowry (68), the 2018 and 2019 Open Champions are one back. Best placed among the 15 players under LIV contract is Talor Gooch (64) at 10-under.
Sergio Garcia, another of the rebels, could face disciplinary action for withdrawing without giving a reason. Instead of playing in the second round, the Spaniard was pictured watching a college gridiron game in Texas.
The case will inevitably only add further fuel to the controversy surrounding the defectors in the Saudi funding circuit who bring it this far.
On Wednesday, McIlroy criticized the LIV brigade for “taking away the players who really need them” and Keith Pelley, the Tour’s chief executive, accused some of the rebels of “disrespect” and launched a subtle attack on Garcia for saying “The European Tour becomes the game’s fifth Tour”.
Regardless of the details behind Garcia’s return to America — the Ryder Cup’s all-time leading scorer shot a 76 in the first round and would need a 64 to make the cut — the fact that he left without explanation didn’t sit well. at Wentworth HQ. It is against the regulations, but it is understood he could avoid censure by providing a late bill.