BMW PGA Championship 2014: Rory McIlroy’s mood improves but Lee Westwood finds fault with flags



The love bulletin from Wentworth was slightly more upbeat on Friday. With any luck the state of Rory McIlroy’s mind will be a matter only for him as the BMW PGA Championship gathers pace on Saturday.

The love bulletin from Wentworth was slightly more upbeat today. With any luck the state of Rory McIlroy’s mind will be a matter only for him as the BMW PGA Championship gathers pace today.

For the record McIlroy has good moments and bad following his split with Caroline Wozniacki. As far as the golf is concerned, he is putting a substantial challenge together, threatening to top his best finish here of fifth five years ago. Three birdies over the closing four holes in filthy weather saw him home in 71 for a five-under-par aggregate.

A six-shot deficit at the start of play had shrunk to five at the close, overnight leader Thomas Bjorn hanging on to a share of the lead with Shane Lowry at 10 under par with a birdie at the last. Over in the tented village behind the 18th green Justin Rose, who is eight back after a second-round 73, was taking questions from sodden punters and joking about how much he had enjoyed the English summer since his return to Britain last week, “all three days of it”. He did, however, miss bacon sandwiches, curry houses and a proper cuppa. 

As ever the crowds at the European Tour’s showpiece were a magnificent testimony to the appeal of the game in Britain. If only the money followed in their footsteps. The big bucks rain down from distant vaults where the love of the game is in its infancy and a matter principally for elites.

Though participation might be falling in golf’s heartlands there remains enough love for the sport to pack the galleries at professional tournaments of this magnitude. And, encouragingly, there was a smattering of nippers craning necks for a live peek at faces ordinarily appropriated on television, or to borrow from the advertising community – online, on tablet and on smartphone.


There was a hint of controversy about day two rooted in pin positions that many thought perverse. Lee Westwood, who shot a credible 71 to enter the weekend on two under par, led the assault, claiming that the location of the holes denied the early starters the kind of advantage that had been conferred on Thursday’s early birds.

“They put the flags out easy and there was no wind yesterday morning. It was a fantastic round but everything was in everybody’s favour yesterday morning for low scoring. I don’t understand the reason for the drastic difference in flag positions from day one to day two,” he said.

“I was always under the impression that you set the golf course up the same over the first two days and the  conditions are the only thing that can affect it, but the set-up of the golf course was massively different from day one to day two. It looked like it played three shots harder in the afternoon yesterday and, with the pin positions today, I would say it is playing three or four shots harder.”

McIlroy agreed. He dropped two shots in his opening three holes and double-bogeyed the seventh, which amounted to a four-shot swing at a hole he had eagled in the first round. The back nine proved far more accommodating. He eagled 12 for the second day in succession before the rash of birdies over the closing holes.

The obligatory mood question was dealt with early. “I think yesterday was a little tougher than today. I was apprehensive going out yesterday. I didn’t know what was going to happen, and at least going out today, I knew what to expect. I think it was good that I had the quick turnaround from last night to this morning just to get straight back out on to the golf course.

“Once you get inside the ropes, you’re concentrating on your golf, and it’s almost like it’s a nice four or five hours of release in some way just to get everything out of your head apart from doing the job at hand. It’s the hours in the day when you’re away from it that are probably a little more difficult.”

And your golf, Rory? “I’m taking advantage of the holes that I should be taking advantage of, which is very pleasing. The par fives, some of the short par fours; that’s been something that was missing in my game last year, and this year. I’ve been able to play the par fives better. My wedge play has been better. I’ve highlighted a few things that I needed to improve, and it shows in the scores.”

The climate gods mocked this English garden late on with a blaze of sunshine, but too late to affect the rhythm of the day. Luke Donald was a welcome exception to the Friday grind, gaining five strokes to par in as many holes around the turn.

He closed on six under par for a share of fourth place, his round of 67 ending with a 25-footer for birdie. His last victory on the European Tour was at this event two years ago. He was in the form of his life back then, the highest-ranked golfer in the world. He came here in 19th spot but the trajectory is upwards and he has that look in his eye again.

“Warming up it was  hammering down and the wind was blowing. I bogeyed the first and thought it was going to be a battle to make the cut. But then I started to hole a few putts and when that starts happening the game starts to feel a bit easier,” Donald said.

Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk