Saturday 20 January 2018

Rory McIlroy makes nightmare start to third round at Wentworth

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy during day three of the BMW PGA Championships at Wentworth
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy during day three of the BMW PGA Championships at Wentworth

Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy was among a trio of contenders who all suffered a nightmare start to the delayed third round of the BMW PGA Championship on Saturday.

McIlroy began the day just five shots off the lead but ran up a double-bogey six on the opening hole, going from a fairway bunker to a greenside one and then thinning his third shot over the green.

Overnight joint leader Thomas Bjorn and Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello also took six on the 473-yard par four to leave Ireland's Shane Lowry alone in the lead on 10 under par.

Bjorn was two shots behind with two-time winner Luke Donald and Sweden's Jonas Blixt another two shots back, with McIlroy saving par on the second to remain seven shots off the pace.

Justin Rose was six off the lead after a rollercoaster front nine of 32 containing just two pars. The US Open champion followed a bogey at the first with four straight birdies, dropped a shot on the sixth and then birdied the eighth.

World number three Henrik Stenson was also four under as he looked to replace Adam Scott as world number one this weekend, with a large number of scenarios possible after the Australian made the cut in the Crowne Plaza Invitational on the PGA Tour.

Scott carded a second round of 68 at Colonial to lie six shots off the halfway lead in a share of 36th place. A total of 75 players made the cut and if Scott finishes 53rd or worse to miss out on any world ranking points, Stenson would only need to finish 29th or better at Wentworth to assume top spot.

If Scott were to finish 30th or worse Stenson would need to be 15th or better, while a top 10 for Scott means world number three Stenson has to finish sixth.

Heavy rain overnight and this morning had left parts of the West Course at Wentworth under water and pushed back starting times by three hours in the European Tour's flagship event.

McIlroy repaired some of the damage with a two-putt birdie on the fourth, where playing partner Donald holed from 25 feet for an eagle to jump into second place.

Lowry had dropped a shot on the third but got it straight back on the fourth, which plays severely downhill and has been the easiest hole all week, although Bjorn could only manage a par and also bogeyed the fifth.

Thomas Aiken, already a winner in his native South Africa this season, had started the day six shots off the pace but moved into contention in spectacular fashion.

After birdies on the first and sixth, Aiken's approach to the ninth pitched 10 feet left of the flag but span sideways into the hole for an eagle two, and he followed that with a curling birdie putt from 15 feet on the next.

And when Lowry carded his second bogey of the day on the eighth, Aiken was suddenly in a share of the lead on nine under.

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