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

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game