BMW PGA Championship 2014: Rory McIlroy tries to relieve the hurt with fine opening round

The world No 10 called off his planned wedding to the tennis player Caroline Wozniacki this week

wentworth

Two eagles and a birdie at the last in a fine 68 offered nil respite from the suffering. Rory McIlroy has given his laptop away and his phone lies silent. There were moments on the course here during the first round of the BMW PGA Championship when all seemed well, particularly the spontaneous celebration of the holed approach that ignited his round, but when the cheers subsided his head filled with hurt and remorse once more.

"At times it was very difficult," he said. "I always knew it would be a difficult week. You would not be a human being if it were not tough, but once I had my mind focused it became a little easier. I'm just trying to put my head into my golf."

When asked why he went public on Wednesday with the news that he had called off his planned wedding to the tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, McIlroy said he felt that, since much of his relationship with her had been played out in public, it was the right thing to do. He got that bit right. And it was hard to be critical when he gave a two-handed salute to his first eagle.

How to celebrate the golden shot from the confines of the doghouse? All one can hope is that Caroline's gaze was elsewhere when McIlroy holed his approach at the seventh.

A crunched wedge from 130 yards spun violently off the greenside bank, down the hill and into the hole, triggering the first sighting of a smile since the wedding plans went up in flames.

 

This is not what heartache is supposed to look like, but the galleries could not care less. Thomas Bjorn had lit up the morning with a record-equalling 62 yet, with due respect to the Dane, it was not him the crowd had come to see.

A birdie at the previous hole had been greeted by McIlroy like a goal against a former team, a brief tug of the cap the only sign that the heart might be stirring. What followed put delicacy to the sword. Instinct had taken over, moving him beyond the reach of convention.

After a scratchy, almost disengaged start, McIlroy was back in business at two under par, and taking comfort from his game. This was the medicine he prescribed for himself, a knock with the boys far removed from the maelstrom of domestic strife.

The weather had come out in sympathy with his pre-match mood. One hole into his round the hooter sent the players back into the clubhouse as the second rain interruption of the day forced a 90-minute suspension. McIlroy returned to an immediate bogey at the second and another at the par-three fifth after a wild tee shot.

At least those early troubles were bound to golf. For the bad shot there is often the cure of a good one to follow, as the birdie, eagle response demonstrated. A second eagle courtesy of a drilled 5-iron approach at the par-five 12th nudged him further down the road to recovery and into the top 10.

Earlier in the day was all about Bjorn. Forget early retirement. Go for the career change instead. Golf is fecund ground for old-timers, Bjorn continuing the march of ageing legs with a course-record 62 at the age of 43.

On Sunday Miguel Angel Jimenez became the European Tour's oldest winner at 50, claiming the Spanish Open in Girona. Now Bjorn leads the tour's flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

What are all the whippersnappers up to? Falling apart in the gym is what. Peter Uihlein, who is all of 24, retired after three holes with back trouble. Sergio Garcia withdrew after completing his first round with a bad knee. Mind you, he is 34. Hennie Otto, a vet at 37, threw in the towel after five holes also citing back problems.

Bjorn's refusal to submit to the call of the midlife crisis is a wonder to behold. Golf is a game that ties the best of them in knots yet here he is challenging at the top of the leader board when he might be running down the clock.

In the past 12 months he has posted a dozen top-10 finishes, including two victories, form good enough for him to lead the Race to Dubai in Ryder Cup year. For three days last month he was a serious contender at the Masters before closing in eighth. And here he is again wringing every last drop from the good fortune bestowed by providence.

Though he had shot 62 twice before, this represents a career high. "The best one, absolutely," he agreed. "On this golf course – you shoot great rounds of golf in your career, but to shoot 62 on this golf course, you can't ask for much more.

"When it goes this way, you've just got to be happy when you walk off the golf course. It's a funny game. There's no two ways about it. You wake up on the right side of the bed and you feel great and you walk out and you play great. And then the next day, you walk out and it's completely gone.

"It's been a lot of hard work and determination to not let a golf career fade away. You get to a stage in your life where you've got to make decisions and to stand there and say, 'Well, do I want to do this?' And if you're going to do it, you've got to work hard because everybody else does."

Wentworth: First-round leaders (GB & Irl unless stated; par 72)

62 T Bjorn (Den)

64 S Lowry

65 R C Bello (Sp)

66 G Stal (Fr)

67 A Wall, F Zanotti (Par), J Walters (SA)

68 R McIlroy, T Aiken (SA), D Horsey, M Kaymer (Ger), J Blixt (Swe), H Stenson (Swe)

69 M Siem (Ger), S Dyson, P Larrazabal (Spa), G Havret (Fr), P Harrington

70 (selected) J Rose, I Poulter

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions