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McDowell and McIlroy slip up

Francesco Molinari flourished while several of his European Ryder Cup team-mates fell flat on their faces as the Italian grabbed the lead in the PGA Championship second round.

Luke Donald, the 2011 and 2012 winner, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell all missed the halfway cut after enduring cold, dank conditions at the European Tour's flagship event.

A miserable Wentworth course almost turned into 'Wetworth' as driving rain, eight-degree temperatures and 15mph winds brought out the multi-coloured umbrellas, waterproofs, mittens and beanies for the second day in a row.

The bad weather, however, played right into Molinari's hands as he fired a four-under 68 for a six-under tally of 138. British pair Marc Warren (70) and Mark Foster (69), Spain's Alejandro Canizares (70) and South African George Coetzee (70) were all one stroke off the pace.

"This weather is the same for everyone but I think in some ways, for me, it's almost better because it makes it even tougher," Molinari said.

"If I'm playing well I hit quite a lot of fairways and greens so I can take advantage of it," said the Italian who is renowned for the excellence of his long game. "I'm hitting the ball well off the tee and with the irons, I'm getting a few chances and the putter is working well so I'm really happy where I am at the moment."

Molinari may have been smiling but Donald, McIlroy, Poulter and McDowell certainly were not. Donald, bidding for a hat-trick of PGA titles, could not retrieve the situation after a woeful first-round 78 had left him with a mountain to climb to make the cut.

"Even for England this is pretty unseasonal and it made the course play tougher," said the Briton after returning a 72 yesterday. "The last couple of years it's been pretty warm for this event and the ball travelled a lot.

"The bottom line, though, is I didn't play very well – I was nine-over for the first 21 holes and that is pretty terrible golf really."

World number two McIlroy missed the cut here for the second season running. "I'm looking forward to playing some golf where I'm not playing in four layers of clothing," said the Northern Irishman. "But that's not really an excuse – I just didn't play well.

 

GRIND

"For 12 or 13 holes yesterday I played really well and it's just when the weather started to turn a little bit, I didn't hang in there. It was a grind and I made too many mistakes and hit too many bad shots."

Wentworth is also not the happiest hunting ground for Poulter who has now missed the championship cut eight times.

British Open champion Ernie Els (69) and playing partner Lee Westwood (71) were lurking menacingly on 141 while Spain's Sergio Garcia, involved in a race row with Tiger Woods earlier this week, was on 143.

Westwood's touch on and around the greens has always been his Achilles heel but he described his short game as "red hot".

"Even Ernie said as we walked off the 12th green, 'Bit of a short game wizard now'," smiled Westwood.

"If my long game comes together I could be dangerous."


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