McIlroy basking in upturn in fortunes at Wentworth

Rory McIlroy chipping out of a bunker during the second round at Wentworth yesterday. He finished with a bogey-free, seven-under 65. The four-time Major winner is the clubhouse leader on 12-under 132.
Rory McIlroy chipping out of a bunker during the second round at Wentworth yesterday. He finished with a bogey-free, seven-under 65. The four-time Major winner is the clubhouse leader on 12-under 132.PHOTO: REUTERS

WENTWORTH (England) • Northern Ireland's golfing star Rory McIlroy says it is nice living up to his star billing, after he shot a seven-under 65 in the second round of the European PGA Championship at Wentworth yesterday.

The four-time Major winner is the clubhouse leader on 12-under 132, and is in prime position to add a second PGA crown to his win in the 2014 edition.

His 36-hole total was only one shot off the tournament record. At press time, his nearest rival was Englishman Sam Horsfield, who carded a 68 to be on 135.

McIlroy's bogey-free round was only slightly blemished by failing to birdie either of the closing two par-fives - the 17th and 18th holes. But he confirmed he has rediscovered his form.

The 29-year-old suffered a dip after a disappointing final round saw the one remaining Major missing from his trophy cabinet, the Masters, elude him again last month.

"It's nice to live up to the billing," McIlroy said.

"I played really well to go bogey-free here, I only missed one green, not by a lot. It was one of the best rounds of golf I've played this year, ball striking-wise."

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    Bogeys Rory McIlroy had in the second round of the BMW PGA Championship.

Playing partner and defending champion Alex Noren (68) also enjoyed a bogey-free round to be five strokes back and was impressed by McIlroy's performance.

"That's the best round I've ever seen. I'm about to quit golf, I think," the Swede jokingly told the European Tour website.

McIlroy has not enjoyed the best of fortunes at Wentworth - apart from 2014, he has missed the cut four times.

But he made light of that history, saying he had felt at ease with the course in the past two days.

He said: "I love this place. I love the area. I love the golf course. I just haven't played that well on it, so to get benign conditions the last couple of days and be able to take advantage of it has been nice."

McIlroy also revealed that one of the reasons he might be playing better at the European Tour's flagship event compared to previous years was due to sufficient rest.

"I'm fresh coming here... I've done some good work and it's started to pay off," he said.

However, he dismissed notions his rivals would be intimidated seeing him out in front.

"I have played two good rounds of golf and I need to play another two equally well," the world No. 8 added. "I don't think anyone cares if my name is on top of the leaderboard."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2018, with the headline 'McIlroy basking in upturn in fortunes at Wentworth'. Print Edition | Subscribe