The Bjorn supremacy is still playing to a packed house at Wentworth. After starting the week with a course-record 62, the 43-year-old Dane Thomas Bjorn enters today’s final round of the BMW PGA Championship with a five-shot lead.
Bjorn switched on the turbo-charger at the 11th and screeched away over the horizon with six birdies in a row to record a back nine of just 30 strokes in an extra-ordinary five-under-par round of 67. He is 15 under par for the tournament.
They are stacked up like cars on the M25 behind him. Thirteen players are within four shots of second place. They include Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Francesco Molinari, Shane Lowry, Jamie Donaldson and Henrik Stenson, who may still end his week as the world No 1 depending on how Adam Scott performs in the States. The trouble for all of them is that Bjorn has left them stalled in his slipstream. The biggest lead ever lost here was four shots when that other golden oldie Miguel Angel Jimenez overtook Robert Karlsson in 2008.
Can anyone catch Bjorn? While Derby County’s former England manager Steve McClaren endured another miserable day at Wembley, at least he did so without his infamous umbrella. But it was Bjorn and McIlroy (pictured) who were the initial wallies with the brollies, scoring early own-goals with double-bogey sixes at the first hole after spraying their drives into the soggy cabbage rough.
It took birdies at the 11th and 12th for the Dane to get back to the 10 under par with which he started the third round. He then lit a cigarette and blew smoke in the faces of his former Ryder Cup team-mates.
McIlroy has kept his concentration and patience in check during a week in which he announced that he had called of his impending marriage to Caroline Wozniacki. After that horrible start to his round, he helped himself to five birdies, firing his trademark towering approach shots and getting his ball to splat down on the saturated greens. He fought his way to a three-round total of eight under par.
Donald, the winner here in two of the past three years, eagled the par-five fourth to get to eight under par, then employed golf’s version of football’s “parking the bus”. He defended his score with 12 pars in a row before birdies at the two par-five closing holes to finish on 10 under.
Fellow Englishman Anthony Wall took the opposite approach. He attacked. Six back-nine birdies took him to six under par. The son of a cab driver, who hails from just up the road at Sunningdale, already knew that his beloved Queens Park Rangers had just won a place in the Premiership. A spectator asked him after he had driven off the 17th tee if he wanted to know the score.
Wall had recorded the match and planned to watch it without knowing the score, but he couldn’t help himself. He had to know the result. “I’m a massive fan. I have full season tickets. I go whenever I can,” he said. “It’s a nice club, and the owners have put in loads of money and made massive efforts. I’m pleased that sometimes things work out.”
“Harry Redknapp is a good guy and I know his son, Jamie, really well and he’s a lovely fellow. They have just been desperate to go up. I’m really proud of them because they have worked really hard.”
McIlroy’s best mate on tour, Ireland’s Shane Lowry, is at nine under. On yet another sodden day at what is now being dubbed Wetworth after it rained cats and dogs, it was Lowry who was trying to paint pictures in the drizzle. McIlroy’s roly-poly pal has already produced a masterpiece, winning the 2009 Irish Open as an amateur in similar conditions. Here, he hunkered down for a game of survival.
Spare a thought for Oliver Fisher, once talked about as a rival to McIlroy. He trudged off in search of a towel to dry out after a 12- over-par 84 with not a single birdie on his card. A Fisher out of water, if you like.