McGinley in stunning form

McGinley in stunning form

Paul McGinley continued on his merry way while others were tearing their hair out at Wentworth today.

A closing 20-foot eagle putt gave McGinley a 66 to add to his opening 65 and that 13-under-par total is a new record for Europe's flagship BMW PGA Championship.

By knocking one stroke off the previous best of Colin Montgomerie, Ernie Els and Andrew Oldcorn the 41-year-old opened up a four-stroke halfway lead over Swede Robert Karlsson and England's Miles Tunnicliff.

This on a day when Ernie Els, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke and Jose Maria Olazabal all failed to survive the cut.

Virtually every sentence used by McGinley afterwards contained the word "great". Even when it came to football - he supports Celtic, who were crowned Scottish champions last night.

Now a first prize of almost £600,000 (€753,506) is his for the taking and should he win it he could rocket up to sixth in the Ryder Cup points race.

Not bad for a player who from reaching the world's top 20 with victory in the 2005 Volvo Masters then went over a year without a top-10 finish.

"It's not like all of a sudden the hole is the size of a bucket but I am in control of what I'm doing and I love Wentworth," commented the Dubliner.

"I'm more than pleased. I had a great back nine, I holed some great putts, it was great.

"Things are looking good but I've been long enough in this game to know there's a long way to go. It's a marathon and I'm only halfway through."

Grabbing the prestigious title would transform the fortunes of a man whose world ranking, currently 157th, has "fallen like a stone" since he helped Europe win three Ryder Cups in a row.

Only 38th on the Order of Merit, he could leap into the number one position on Sunday night - and even if he goes second that would earn him an invitation to the US Open in three weeks' time.

Out in a level-par 35 he roared home in a six-under 31, with the eagle being preceded by putts of 25 feet on the short 10th, 20 feet at the 13th, 40 feet from off the 15th green and six feet on the 610-yard 17th.

McGinley's lead is not a record one for the tournament.

That was the seven-stroke cushion John Garner held when it was first staged at Wentworth in 1972 - and he finished only third, four behind Tony Jacklin.

There is no former Open and US Open champion among the leading challengers to McGinley. In fact, there is not a major winner within 13 shots of him.

Ryder Cup team-mate Karlsson is a man in form, however. He has finished third the last two weeks and in the Italian Open had a majestic second-round 61.

This time the 38-year-old stayed second with a 69, but was joined when Tunnicliff matched McGinley's day-old record for the lengthened lay-out with a 65.

Tunnicliff is no spring chicken either. The 40-year-old has made no fewer than 12 trips to the Tour qualifying school and on Wednesday was doubtful because of a pulled muscle in his forearm.

"It's 'beware the injured golfer' again," he said.

"The physios worked very hard and managed to sort me out with some acupuncture."

Dane Soren Kjeldsen also returned a 65 and with it moved into joint fourth with England's Oliver Wilson, who in Milan two weeks ago had his third runners-up finish of the season and sixth in all. It would be a fantastic week to register his first victory.

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