Thursday 23 November 2017

Rory McIlroy held up at Wentworth - as cars pile up on fairway

Rory McIlroy hits from a path on the 11th hole
Rory McIlroy hits from a path on the 11th hole

Phil Casey

World number one Rory McIlroy had an unexpected traffic jam as well as 149 opponents to deal with as he began the defence of his BMW PGA Championship title on Thursday.

McIlroy was among the early starters at Wentworth as he looked to claim a third win in four events, having followed his victory in the WGC-Cadillac Match Play with a third consecutive top-10 finish in the Players Championship and a seven-shot triumph at Quail Hollow on Sunday.

Playing alongside Ryder Cup team-mates Jamie Donaldson and Martin Kaymer, McIlroy got off to a poor start with a bogey on the first, failing to find the green with his approach and missing from 12 feet for par after a poor chip.

To the delight of the large crowds, the 26-year-old quickly made amends with a birdie from 15 feet on the second, before having to wait on the third tee as a number of cars crossed the fairway to reach one of the spectator car parks.

At level par, McIlroy was two shots off the early lead shared by England's Sam Hutsby, South African George Coetzee and Spain's Jorge Campillo, with Lee Westwood one under after also making a birdie on the second.

Scotland's Stephen Gallacher had been forced to withdraw from the event before play began due to a wrist injury, with his replacement Robert Dinwiddie perhaps unsurprisingly starting his round just 30 minutes later with a double bogey on the first.

McIlroy moved into red figures with a birdie on the par-five fourth, traditionally one of the easiest holes on the course, but promptly gave the shot back with a bogey on the fifth.

A good birdie chance then went begging on the eighth to leave the four-time major winner level par, three behind the pace now being set by England's Chris Wood, who had picked up shots on the sixth, eighth and 12th.

Wood was a shot ahead of a five-strong group which included Ryder Cup hero Donaldson, whose approach to the eighth almost span back into the water at the front of the green, but stopped in the rough and allowed the Welshman to save par thanks to a deft chip.

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