McIlroy misses another cut and admits 'taking my eye off the ball'


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The Independent Online

James Morrison, ranked No 236 in the world, crafted a 64 to lead the BMW PGA Championship by four shots. Rory McIlory, world No 1, needed a birdie at the last to avoid the embarrassment of an 80 and close 21 shots in arrears. To corrupt Sir Alex Ferguson; golf, bloody hell.

For the second successive event McIlroy is left contemplating a missed cut. Yes the wind got up in the afternoon to brutalise an already demanding course, but McIlroy's response to it was not the stuff of myth. Three weeks hence he begins the defence of his US Open crown. He cannot conquer Olympic Club playing like this.

Morrison has missed five cuts in his past 10 events. He has not finished higher than 30th all year. Yet here he is filling the space that was supposed to be McIlroy's. A caricature of his regal best McIlroy carded dropped shots at six successive holes around the turn, a reminder, perhaps, that at 23 years old the mood swings of adolescence have yet to leave him.

There is a precedent for the Morrison turbo thrust. He did not take up the game until he was 16 and within 10 months had bolted from an 18-handicap to scratch. As a youngster cricket was his game and had he chosen differently might have been striding out at Trent Bridge today alongside his teenage contemporaries in the England youth ranks, Alastair Cook and Tim Bresnan.

His final contribution with the bat was an undefeated century for Surrey under-17s against Middlesex. By then golf had claimed his heart and yesterday love really started to blossom in a remarkable round of 64. Today he has world No 2 Luke Donald for company in the final group. The two have never met though Donald, who took five years to negotiate the same stretch of the handicap ladder, observed the very best of golfing etiquette by claiming that he knew of his playing partner.

Donald said: "A 64 is very impressive. To shoot that on this course in any conditions is great going," Donald said. Never mind the 64, Luke, what about Morrison's sacking of the handicap system? "I was off 18 when I was 10. By the time I got to scratch I was 14 or 15, so it took me five years at least. He's got a little head start."

Morrison's challenge is to convert the arresting start into a substantial finish. A fortnight from now he is due to become a father for the first time. Maybe life's ball is just rolling for him. He claims this has been coming. Don't they all? He has put 15 yards on his tee shots and the temperature is starting to rise in his putter. Whatever happens, he says, it beats playing cricket.

"I was on a scholarship [at Surrey] until I was 18," Morrison said. "My last game was 114 not out. I called it a day after that and have never really looked back. Playing golf is better than standing in the field all day between fine leg and third man, I can tell you that."

Maybe McIlroy fancies taking up cricket. Anything but golf was the message conveyed by a set of figures that would make a Greek banker wince. Lee Westwood required a birdie at the last to make the cut on one over par.

McIlroy said: "I have taken my eye off the ball and did not practice as hard as I might. I have lacked competitive golf after taking a couple of weeks off following the Masters. On the back nine I was already thinking about [Memorial] next week. This was a week I'd like to forget."

Wentworth scores

BMW PGA Championship, Wentworth GC, Surrey: Early Second round (GB & Irl unless stated, par 72): 132 J Morrison 68 64; 136 D Drysdale 66 70; L Donald 68 68; 137 P Lawrie 66 71; A Quiros (Sp) 67 70; 138 F Molinari (It) 68 70; B Grace (SA) 69 69; M Siem (Ger) 71 67; P Hedblom (Swe) 68 70; R Gonzalez (Arg) 71 67; J Rose 67 71; R Cabrera Bello (Sp) 68 70; F Andersson Hed (Swe) 70 68; 139 R Sterne (SA) 71 68; E Molinari (It) 69 70; 140 C Schwartzel (SA) 69 71; N Fasth (Swe) 67 73; J Donaldson 67 73; M Kaymer (Ger) 71 69; D Willett 69 71; D Higgins 70 70; 141 M Angel Jimenez (Sp) 71 70; V Dubuisson (Fr) 70 71; 142 R Jan Derksen (Neth) 71 71; R S Johnson (Swe) 67 75; G Havret (Fr) 75 67; 143 S Webster 69 74; D McGrane 71 72; C Montgomerie 69 74; R Finch 76 67; T Jaidee (Thai) 71 72; 144 B Rumford (Aus) 70 74; M Ilonen (Fin) 74 70; P McGinley 73 71; 145 J Kingston (SA) 71 74; P Streeter 71 74; B Curtis (US) 70 75; S S P Chowrasia (India) 69 76; A Cejka (Ger) 75 70; O Floren (Swe) 74 71; S Lowry 71 74; R Green (Aus) 72 73; S Little 72 73; 146 P Price 73 73; N Colsaerts (Bel) 72 74; M Cort 74 72; 147 S Kjeldsen (Den) 70 77; R Karlsson (Swe) 73 74; P Whiteford 77 70; A Pavan (It) 74 73; D Howell 73 74; S Micheel (US) 73 74; G Bourdy ( Fr) 74 73; 148 R Coles 75 73; R Beem (US) 75 73; G Fdez-Castano (Sp) 75 73; D Clarke 71 77; 149 D Denison 75 74; G Boyd 76 73; M Campbell (NZ) 78 71; 150 C Del Moral (Sp) 72 78; Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fr) 76 74; A Wall 78 72; M Jonzon (Swe) 74 76; J Van Zyl (SA) 77 73; 151 J Elson 78 73; L Gagli (It) 72 79; 152 K Horne (SA) 70 82; 153 D J Smith 79 74; 154 P Casey 78 76; R Wallis 73 81; G Storm 78 76; 155 R Davies 73 82; 156 B Hebert (Fr) 83 73; 157 M Brier (Aut) 75 82.