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Willett fades after record-breaking front nine to sit in three-way tie for lead

The Masters champion is joined at the top of the leaderboard by Scott Hend and Y E Yang on a day to forget for Shane Lowry.

Danny Willett is on 10-under-par heading into the weekend.
Danny Willett is on 10-under-par heading into the weekend.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

MASTERS CHAMPION DANNY Willett might have started his day with a record-breaking 29 on the front nine but he is heading into the weekend at the BMW PGA Championship in a tie for the lead with Scott Hend and YE Yang.

Willett made six birdies in his opening nine holes but dropped four shots, and picked up a further two, on his back nine to card a four-under 68, leaving him on 10-under-par for the tournament after yesterday’s bogey-free 66.

Hend eagled the last to register a 69 and join former US PGA winner YE Yang of Korea, who also carded a 69 today, and Willett at the top of the leaderboard.

Willett had started the day a shot behind Joost Luiten of the Netherlands, Hend and Yang.

“I played great most of the day and then chucked a couple of horrid golf shots in there,” Willett admitted.

“Couple of silly shots on the back nine and didn’t quite come up to a few of the lines. But 68, but you’ve got to look at the full number; 68 is a good score.”

South Africa’s Jaco van Zyl followed his opening-round 67 with a 68 to sit just one shot off the leading trio and one clear of Spain’s Jorge Campillo.

Ryder Cup hopeful Rafa Cabrera Bello made a move getting to four-under for the day and five-under for the tournament, where he is joined by Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Luiten and Swede Peter Hanson.

The only Irishman to make the cut was Graeme McDowell, who finished on a two-under-par total after a 73 today.

Those at two-over and above were dropped from the field for the weekend and there were plenty of Irish casualties — Colm Moriarty (+2), Shane Lowry (+3), David Higgins (+4), Michael Hoey (+4), Darren Clarke (+12) and Eamonn Brady (+16).

The Offaly man, in particular, had a day to forget after yesterday’s three-under-par 69. A treble-bogey seven on the par-four 15th and a double-bogey six on the 16th proved costly as he carded a 78 and fell below the cut-line.

Paul McGinley retired after four holes today on a nine-under par total following a six-over 78 in his first round.

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