Ireland’s hopes of ending a 54-year BMW PGA Championship drought will not rest on its quartet of major champions, who all suffered early exits at Wentworth.
Current US Open champion Rory McIlroy, reigning Open champion Darren Clarke, who finished four over par, Graeme McDowell and Pádraig Harrington all missed the halfway cut in this €4.5 million tournament. So the challenge of joining 1958 PGA champion Harry Bradshaw as just the second Irish winner of this prestigious event will fall to Ireland’s lesser lights on the Tour, led by first-round co-leader Peter Lawrie, who will resume today five shots off the pace set by England’s James Morrison, who shot an eight-under-par 64 yesterday morning before the wind got up to lead at the halfway stage on 12 under par.
McIlroy, though, missed his second cut in as many starts this month following an early bath at The Players Championship and also faces losing his world number one status if Luke Donald secures a top-eight finish.
Like TPC Sawgrass, where the Holywood star has three MCs from three starts, Wentworth’s West Course is also proving to be golfing Kryptonite to the budding superhero’s otherwise all-conquering potential, the proof writ large in a second round 79.
Adding to his opening 74, McIlroy’s wheels really fell off around the turn as the US Open champion double-bogeyed the par-four eighth and followed with five successive bogeys. There was also a double-bogey six at 15, and although he finished with a birdie he admitted he had been struggling with his game as well as the course.
“That stretch around the middle of the golf course, I just can’t seem to be able to get anything going around there,” McIlroy said.
As for the state of his game with 19 days until his US Open title defence begins in San Francisco, he added: “I’ll just have to go and work really hard and get it back to the level it was at earlier in the year. I think I might have taken my eye off the ball a little bit...maybe not practising as hard as I might have been.
“I just feel like I’ve lacked competitive rounds maybe a little bit. I’m looking forward to getting over to the States and hopefully playing four rounds next week.”
Those four rounds will be at the Memorial in Ohio while McDowell and Harrington, by contrast, will wait a week before playing Memphis and going to the Olympic Club for the year’s second major “You just write this off,” McDowell said following a second-round 73 that left him at three over. “This is not one of my happy hunting grounds. This is a course I’d like to play well. I just don’t particularly do it.”
Harrington had been resigned to his fate as early as the second hole of his opening round when a triple-bogey eight put him on the back foot for the remaining 34 holes of his participation, a second-round 79 leaving him 11 over.
The sight of Harrington licking an ice cream yesterday as he walked down the 17th belied his commitment to the cause, even when the game was up, although he admitted it had been “the best part of the day”.
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