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Dublin: 4°C Sunday 16 May 2021

Rory McIlroy two shots off the lead after impressive start at Wentworth

The 29-year-old carded a five-under 67 at the BMW PGA Championship.

Image: Adam Davy

RORY MCILROY IS just two shots off the lead, after carding a five-under 67 in the first round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

McIlroy hit an impressive seven birdies in all and just two bogeys, leaving the 29-year-in touch with the current leader Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark.

McIlroy believes this opening-round display could provide the springboard for a successful summer, and also feels he’s playing better now than in his disappointing final round at The Masters, where he missed out on the elusive green jacket.

McIlroy made a low key start to his round dropping a shot early on but he hit his stride with four birdies on the inward nine to put himself one off the clubhouse leaders, South African duo Darren Fichardt and Dean Burmester.

“Yes, most definitely,” McIlroy said referring to it being a good platform for him to build on.

“Obviously there’s the next three days to worry about, but you know, on from that, I’ve got a few big tournaments coming up in the States, and then a very busy summer with a lot of important stuff coming up.

“So if I can keep playing like this, it should hopefully be a good summer.”

McIlroy, who began the season in good form winning at Bay Hill on the US Tour and two top three finishes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, felt he played better than he has done in recent weeks but is still not quite at the level as it was when he won back in 2014.

That proved to be the catalyst for him going on to win two majors (The British Open and the US PGA) as well as several other titles.

“I am not quite as comfortable with my game as I was in 2014,” said McIlroy.

“But it is moving in the right direction.”

McIlroy, who earlier this year revealed he has a minor heart defect caused by getting a serious viral infection in China in 2016, said he was delighted to be amongst the leaders as it is a tough course to fight back on.

McIlroy has admitted he has had a weird relationship with the golf course in the past but appeared more upbeat now it has been radically revamped.

“If you start to chase it here it can bite you,” he said.

“The course is fairer than it was and I feel comfortable with my game.

“I don’t feel I have to be over aggressive and I think if I play the par fives well for the rest of the week I will be up there come Sunday.”

McIlroy shrugged off being distracted by a photographer when he took his second shot on the par-five 18th and looking good for at least a birdie — though he cast the guilty party a killer look — which eventually fell short of the green and he ended up making par.

“I wouldn’t say I wished him dead,” said McIlroy smiling.

“It is a difficult enough shot as it is but look that sort of thing happens now and again.”

Meanwhile, it wasn’t a great start for Padraig Harrington at Wentworth, who carded a disappointing six-over 78, while Shane Lowry is four off the lead following a three-under 69 in the opening round.

Paul Dunne is two shots behind Lowry.

Additional reporting by Sinéad Farrell

© – AFP 2018

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