Sport Golf

Monday 19 February 2018

Shades of light and dark at PGA for Masters champion Willett as five-putt derails Lowry


England's Danny Willett. Photo: John Walton/PA Wire.
England's Danny Willett. Photo: John Walton/PA Wire.

James Corrigan

One minute you are in full strut to the 10th tee, having just shot a record outward-nine 29 in front of adoring fans still congratulating you on winning the Green Jacket; and 90 minutes later, you are stuck under a tree, peering in panic at the referee and concerned that your sunglasses might have hit your ball after they had toppled off your head.

If Danny Willett had lost sight that the game of golf possesses the power to make you look silly no matter how prestigious your garlands, then it was only a momentary lapse.

The Masters champion managed to laugh it off, recalling how three bogeys in a row from the 15th "all mingled into a big pile of crap on the back nine". And despite his inward 39 making it a bizarre 10-shot differential between nines, Willett still shot a four-under 68 to move to 10-under at the BMW PGA Championship.

No, it was not enough to secure the outright halfway lead - with both the Australian Scott Hend (69) and the Korean YE Yang (69) eventually catching him - but, as the only member of the world's top 30 within 11 shots of the lead, he is still the overwhelming favourite to win tomorrow.

When he holed his third 10-footer of the morning on the ninth he was five shots clear. More than being a mere homecoming for the Englishman, this appeared to be a homecoming procession.

But bogeys on the 10th and 15th were met by another on the 16th and then followed the mayhem on the par-five 17th when his shades were dislodged. He escaped a penalty as the ball did not move.

Shane Lowry also missed the weekend after five dropped shots on consecutive holes, the 15th and 16th, which included a five-putt on 15, saw him slump to a 78 and a three-over total, two outside the cut mark. Graeme McDowell was the sole Irish player to make it through, his 73 leaving him on two-under par. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Clarke wants 'honesty' from vice-captain Harrington

European captain Darren Clarke expects honesty, expert opinion and the occasional uncomfortable truth from Pádraig Harrington, Paul Lawrie and Thomas Bjorn after naming them as three of his five vice-captains for this year's Ryder Cup.

Bjorn performed the same role alongside Clarke in 2010 and 2012, as well as for Bernhard Langer in 2004, while Harrington was one of five vice-captains to Paul McGinley at Gleneagles in 2014.

Former Open champion Lawrie will make his debut as part of the backroom staff at Hazeltine as Europe seek an unprecedented fourth straight victory and ninth in the last 11 biennial contests.

Clarke hopes to name his final two vice-captains around the time of the Open Championship in July, with 2012 captain Jose Maria Olazabal, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter understood to be in the frame.

"Having been there, you want honesty from your vice-captains," Clarke said. "You want them to tell you exactly what they are thinking."

Harrington said: "Darren waited a decent amount of time to confirm that I wouldn't be in the team, which was very nice of him. All of us dream of playing great golf every week we play and we think that tomorrow we're going to win and make teams. But the reality is a little different."

BMW PGA Championship,

Live, Sky Sports 4, 12.0

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