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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment