Wednesday 17 July 2019

Donald charges into contention

Luke Donald made a fine recovery on the second day
Luke Donald made a fine recovery on the second day

Luke Donald planned to treat himself to a curry after moving into contention for a third BMW PGA Championship title in four years on Friday.

Donald carded a superb 67 at Wentworth to finish six under par, four shots behind joint leaders Thomas Bjorn and Shane Lowry and one ahead of the likes of Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy.

The former world number one carded six birdies and an eagle after the weather improved in late afternoon, with 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 the likes of Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer and Nick Faldo as three-time champions of the European Tour's flagship event.

"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 good curry. It's hard to find one in the States."

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, three better than playing partner Stephen Gallacher managed as the Scot fell away to one over for the week.

"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.

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, whose 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, 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."

PA Media

The Throw-In: Kerry back to their best, Connolly’s return and Cork’s baffling inconsistency

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport