McGinley flourishes as Rose wilts away

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The Paul McGinley "Burma Road" show continued apace here yesterday. In fact, it went into overdrive. The unfancied Dubliner is four shots clear in the BMW PGA Championship and playing the golf of his life. And, for that matter, most other professionals' lives. It might only be at halfway, but the European Tour's flagship event is already his for the losing.

Naturally, after a 66 to go with his opening 65, McGinley is not looking at it with such a negative slant. He adores Wentworth's West Course – better known as the "Burma Road" – and is walking on air. Indeed, such has been his magnificence that the substance under his spikes may well be water.

At 13-under, McGinley has already posted the lowest 36 hole score in the event's 52-year history. That is not a bad claim to fame, when one considers that this course has been toughened up considerably in the past couple of years. To come back in seven-under 31 always was a feat at Wentworth. Nowadays it verges on the miraculous. How did he do it? Simple. He putted like God's better foursome partner.

In those nine brilliant holes, four efforts of more than 20 feet dropped. Inevitably, none was welcomed as rapturously as the last. On the par-five 18th he manoeuvred a drive and a three-iron to 25 feet and the eagle-finder was never off aim. Take a bow Dr Paul Hurrion, a sports scientist in the West Midlands – he designed McGinley's putter. "It is based on biomechanics," said McGinley. "I saw what Paul did with Padraig [Harrington] and that's why I sought him out." Good decision. On this evidence, Harry Potter should go to Hurrion for his wands.

The doctor should certainly anticipate a packed waiting room on Monday morning, should McGinley prevail here. At 41, without a win for 30 months and ranked 157th in the world, most had wiped the greying Ryder Cupper off their radars. Yet a victory at his favourite course would not only put him in line for a fourth Ryder Cup appearance, in Nick Faldo's team in September, but also into the rest of the year's majors. "I'm not even thinking about anything like that yet," he said. "As I see it, I'm just halfway through a marathon."

McGinley is wise to say so. There are a few imposing figures on his trail, not least the 6ft 5in Swede Robert Karlsson. At nine-under he shares second with a Midlands journeyman, Miles Tunnicliff, while Paul Casey is not out of it on five-under.

At the other end of the scoreboard, the form of Justin Rose is beginning to worry. And although it is prudent to whisper so in intelligent golfing circles, it is also beginning to remind some of his previous travails. Surely the great hope of England has been through too much to embark on another head-first slump. Hasn't he?

The stats certainly do not suggest he has. Yesterday, Rose missed his third cut in succession. That has not happened in five years. What made it all seem that much worse was that Rose arrived in Surrey talking confidently and passionately about a "home" tournament he is so eager to win. No doubt there will be other BMW PGA Championships and other chances for Rose, and at least he can take the consolation back to the United States that he is not the only big name heading elsewhere for the weekend.

In fact, there was a mini stampede through the gates, led by a few other thoroughbreds. Ernie Els, the world No 3, crashed out at four-over, while Jose Maria Olazabal and Darren Clarke checked out in similar fashion. And then there was Colin Montgomerie. Poor old moody Monty. He bogeyed the last, marched off the course and straight into his friends from the press room.

"You can wipe that smile off your face for starters," he told one enthusiastic hack. "This is not funny."

He was spot on. This happened to be Montgomerie's first missed cut here in 19 years and boy, will it prove costly. Since 1991, he has lost the prized status as the highest-placed Scot in the world rankings only once (for a two-week period in 2004). Now Alastair Forsyth seems certain to leapfrog him tomorrow. That is not funny at all.

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