Sunday 17 December 2017

Paul McGinley and Padraig Harrington hit the ground running at Wentworth

Ireland's Padraig Harrington during day one of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth
Ireland's Padraig Harrington during day one of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth

Phil Casey

South African Justin Walters made the most of ideal conditions to get off to a flying start in the first round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Thursday.

Almost 11 millimetres of rain fell on the course overnight and further thunderstorms were possible, but the early starters were enjoying calm and dry conditions in the European Tour's flagship event.

Walters, who secured his card by finishing second in the penultimate event of last season, was in the third group out at 0720 and stormed to the top of the leaderboard with a birdie on the third, eagle on the fourth and another birdie on the fifth.

At four under par the 33-year-old was two shots clear of a five-strong group of players which included Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, Ireland's Padraig Harrington and Denmark's Thomas Bjorn.

McGinley, who was 15th in the Spanish Open last week, had matched Walters' eagle on the par-five fourth, while Harrington carded a birdie there and another on the fifth.

Harrington has not won a full-field tournament on a major tour since his US PGA Championship triumph in 2008, but was in contention for the Byron Nelson Championship in Texas last week before finishing 22nd after a closing 74.

Luke Donald's bid for a third victory at Wentworth in four years had got off to a slow start, the former world number one dropping a shot at the first after hitting a poor pitch from short of the green.

And Sergio Garcia was also one over after missing from three feet for par on the opening hole following a superb bunker shot.

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