McIlroy takes control at Wentworth

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy during day two of the 2018 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club, Surrey. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.
By Padraig Kelly and PA

RORY McIlroy produced a stunning second-round 65 yesterday to secure the lead at the halfway point of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

The Holywood golfer didn't drop a single shot all day and, as a result, he holds a three stroke advantage over England's Sam Horsfield and France's Sébastien Gros entering the third round.

McIlroy - who confirmed that he is no longer working with putting coach Phil Kenyon - got the ball rolling with a birdie on the par-five fourth, before picking up further shots on the seventh and ninth to reach the turn in 32.

The 29-year-old then rattled off four birdies in succession on the back nine and was five shots clear before Horsfield fired four birdies in five holes from the 12th. Gros also had an impressive back nine, the highlight undoubtedly an eagle on the par-five 12th.

There was some frustration for McIlroy though as he failed to birdie the 17th and 18th, both par fives, for the second day in succession.

"There's still a couple of loose shots in there, like the one on 18 (which plugged in a greenside bunker), but overall it was a great round of golf," the leader said.

"I had everything sort of firing today and it was nice to take advantage of the opportunities I gave myself. All you ask for is giving yourself a chance every week.

"I could go out and shoot two 65s at the weekend and get beaten so you can't expect to win. All I expect to do is go out and control what I can control.

“Every tournament is a big tournament but the more I can play well and the more confidence I can build going into those majors the better."

Fellow Northern Ireland man Graeme McDowell also had a productive day with a 67 moving him into the top 10 heading into the weekend.

The player, who was named as a European Ryder Cup vice-captain earlier this week, endured a mixed start with two birdies, two pars and two bogeys in his first six holes.

The rest of his round was much more impressive though as he picked up seven more birdies without dropping a shot. That leaves him six-under-par, six shots off McIlroy, heading into round three.

Shane Lowry is a further two shots back after he failed to get anything going on the back nine yesterday.

The Offaly native was five-under-par heading to the turn, but a birdie on the 12th was cancelled out by a bogey on the 15th.

It meant that Lowry was comfortably within the cut line but fellow Irishman Paul Dunne missed out by two shots after a very disappointing 75.

After finishing his first round with a bogey, Dunne started his second round in even worse fashion with a double bogey.

That left him in a race to find birdies but he could only manage one over the next 17 holes to finish on two-over-par overall.

An opening-day 78 meant that Padraig Harrington was always unlikely to be around for the weekend, but he did show spirit with a two-under-par 70 yesterday.

It could have been so much better too but a double bogey on 16 killed any hope of sneaking over the cut line. He did respond with a birdie on 18 to finish the tournament on a positive note and a four-over-par score.

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