Shane Lowry eases into share of lead at rainswept Wentworth
SHANE LOWRY cruised into a share of the lead at the rainswept PGA Championship today as he posted a two-under-par that left him on 10 under with Thomas Bjorn.
Lowry won the Irish Open in bad weather as an amateur in 2009 and is a massive fan of Wentworth, finishing fourth here in 2011 and 12th last year.
"I was good out there today," said Lowry of his round of 70. His best finish of the season was a share of 15th in the Spanish Open last week. "I was mentally there and really enjoyed it.
"It was tough for the front nine with the rain and stuff but it was a nice back nine and I managed to take advantage of it."
Earlier in the day, Rory McIlroy went from flirting with a third consecutive missed cut in this event to a place inside the top 10.
A front nine of 38 left the former world number one just a shot outside the projected cut mark, but he eagled the 12th for the second day running and added birdies at three of the last four holes for a 71.
McIlroy announced on Wednesday that he had called off his planned November wedding to former world number one tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, even though the invitations had just been sent out.
"I was apprehensive going out yesterday, I honestly didn't know what to expect and it was good I had the quick turnaround to get back on the golf course," the 25-year-old said.
"I have exceeded my expectations so far. Once you get inside the ropes you are concentrating on your golf and it's almost a nice four or five-hour release to concentrate on the job at hand.
"I stood here yesterday saying that I would be happy to make the cut and I'm in for the weekend, which is nice. Hopefully I can make a run at it. I feel like I'm playing well enough to shoot something in the mid 60s and get myself in the mix going into Sunday."
Luke Donald carded a superb 67 to finish six under par, four shots behind joint leaders Bjorn and Lowry and one ahead of the likes of Henrik Stenson, Jonas Blixt and McIlroy.
The former world number one carded the lowest round of the day with six birdies and an eagle after the weather improved in late afternoon, a run of five threes in succession from the eighth culminating in an eagle on the 12th.
"When we were warming up the rain was coming down pretty heavy and the wind was blowing hard," said 2011 and 2012 champion Donald, who would join Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo and Peter Alliss in winning the European Tour's flagship event three or more times.
"It was wet for six or seven holes but for the rest of the day it was pretty nice. I'm happy with the way I played and I holed some long putts which is always a bonus.
"Being nine behind after the first day seems like a big mountain to climb but now I'm back in position to try to win this championship again."
Donald finished his round in style with a birdie from 25 feet on the 18th and added: "Dinner will taste good, I might enjoy a little curry. It's hard to fine a good curry back in the States but there's some good ones round here."
Bjorn had set a new course record with his opening 62 and was pleased to recover from two over par after seven holes on Friday to return a 72.
"Those were tough conditions for everybody out there today," the 43-year-old Dane said. "Especially on the front nine it was extremely difficult to get into a rhythm.
"We played those first four holes in I don't know how long, and we had a couple of rulings in front of us. It was just impossible to find a good rhythm and Retief (Goosen) left us with a back injury after five holes, so we got caught in a two-ball.
"It just seems like all day we were waiting and waiting for a long time on a lot of these shots. It was a tough ask today so I was pretty pleased with the way I finished the round."
Bjorn birdied two of the last four holes to finish where he started the day on 10 under, with Lowry recovering from a double-bogey six on the ninth with birdies on the 10th, 12th, 17th and 18th.
Stenson can replace Adam Scott as world number this week depending on their respective results, with a missed cut for Scott in the Crowne Plaza Invitational meaning Stenson would need just a top-30 finish at Wentworth.
"I will be sitting at home biting my nails all evening," Stenson joked. "I don't expect Adam to miss the cut but I played fantastic golf for four or five months last season and made more points than anyone. If I can get to number one it's on the back of that."