Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood made poor starts to the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth today – but at least they were not in last place like Padraig Harrington.
Three-time major winner Harrington followed an opening bogey five with a triple-bogey six at the 154-yard next to be four over par and already seven strokes adrift of early leader George Coetzee.
After finding the deep bunker short of the green, the Dubliner’s second shot rolled back down the bank into the sand and he then compounded the error by three-putting.
World number one McIlroy bogeyed the same hole, going over the green and leaving his chip nine feet short – and that came after he had missed a 10-foot birdie chance at the first.
Third-ranked Westwood, meanwhile, scrambled well for two opening pars, but went long and left with his approach to the 465-yard third and by three-putting ran up a double-bogey six.
He was back on the course where he lost a play-off and the number one spot to Luke Donald a year ago.
Donald, trying to follow Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie as the only players to make a successful defence of the title, was among the later starters on day one.
Westwood splashed out of a bunker to six feet on the first and at the second his ball plugged in the bank above the guarding bunker, but despite the awkward stance after he had taken a free drop he chipped brilliantly to four feet.
New caddie Michael “Sponge” Waite gave him a new nickname after that escape - “Seve” – but the magic so associated with the late Spanish maestro could not continue.
South African Coetzee, yet to record his first victory on the European Tour, birdied three of the first four holes to be one in front of England’s 2010 champion Simon Khan, who picked up strokes at the third and fourth.
McIlroy, playing in Europe as world number one for the first time, was paired with Ernie Els and Martin Laird.
Els, the man who has toughened up the West Course and been on the receiving end of some fierce criticism over some of the changes, made a 12-foot birdie putt at the second, but the US-based Scot set off on his debut in the championship with two bogeys.
Runner-up in the Players Championship a fortnight ago, Laird three-putted the first and then, after being in the same bunker as Harrington at the second, missed from under five feet.
Coetzee lost top spot to Scot Marc Warren when he eagled the 531-yard 12th - back as a par five this year - and there was also an eagle from McIlroy on the 552-yard fourth.
That lifted the 23-year-old Northern Irishman to one under, while Westwood and Harrington birdied it to be one over and three over respectively.
Graeme McDowell birdied the fourth and fifth to join the group on two under and Laird did the same to return to level par.
Warren bogeyed the short 14th and slipped back to three under alongside not only Coetzee, but also Els, who had birdied three of the first six.
Westwood’s second birdie came on the 391-yard eighth to put him level par, while McIlroy remained one under after six and Harrington three over at the same point.