RORY McILROY'S season took another harrowing twist as the World No 2 stumbled to five bogeys in his final six holes at Wentworth.
McIlroy appeared to rise above controversy stirred by news of his impending departure from Dublin management company Horizon Sports as he played his first 12 holes in the BMW PGA Championship in three-under.
Yet the Holywood native hit the wall down the stretch as he slumped to his fourth first-round 74 in six appearances at the European Tour showpiece, finishing 5-4-5-4-6-6 for his final half-dozen holes. He lay eight shots off the lead set by South African Jamie Kingson with a 66.
In contrast, Shane Lowry romped to a classy 70, which suggests a big weekend lies ahead for the Clara man, already a two-time winner on tour.
Lowry and Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley clearly revelled in each other's company. The Dubliner (46) was one of only two players to go bogey-free as he posted a one-under-par 71.
GAA fans Lowry and McGinley conversed the whole way round about Gaelic football and, in particular, Sunday's titanic Ulster Championship clash between Donegal and Tyrone.
"We had a decent chat going about football, which was great," said Lowry. "I don't think Wen-Chong Liang (their Chinese playing companion) knew too much about that. I asked him did he think Donegal were going to win the All-Ireland again, but he'd no comment."
As for McGinley, he said: "Paul's been great to me over the last few years. When I was sick in Dubai in November, he visited me every day in the hospital."
Naturally, Lowry wants to qualify for the Ryder Cup. McGinley said: "Shane played very well. He's a great kid. I wish him the best of luck and will offer him every encouragement."