Rory McIlroy put himself in prime position for a second BMW PGA Championship title after cruising to a seven-under 65 early on the second day at Wentworth.
McIlroy built on his encouraging, opening 67 and put on an exhibition of pure ball-striking to entertain the huge galleries following him, Lee Westwood and Alex Noren in excellent morning conditions on the West Course.
The 2014 champion refused to dwell on missing a number of birdie chances over the front nine, set up by his first-class precision from tee to green, retaining his composure throughout to set the early clubhouse target at 12 under par, giving him a four-shot lead as he went to sign his card.
The 29-year-old, whose mixed record in the tournament includes four missed cuts in his eight appearances, was unable to convert from 10 feet and inside on each of the first three greens, but a neat chip to four feet at the fourth resulted in his first red number of the round.
McIlroy saw further opportunities go begging on the next two holes, but he clipped another sublime wedge to three feet at the seventh and rattled in the putt before doing well to two-putt for par at the next after a rare block from the fairway.
He finally got a putt to drop from 10 feet at the ninth which capped an outward 32, and after solid pars at 10 and 11 he reeled off four consecutive birdies from the 12th – nailing a 30-footer on 13 and knocking his tee shot to 14 to virtual tap-in range.
McIlroy then got away with an errant drive into the left rough at the 15th, gouging his second to around 30 feet and finding a huge bonus when he rolled a perfect putt straight into the middle of the cup, a birdie which lifted him four clear of the chasing pack at the time.
The world No 8 made a cast-iron par at 16, but he could not take advantage of the par-five 17th for the second day running as he got heavy-handed with his chip from the front-right rough and his 10-footer for birdie curled across the face of the hole.
McIlroy endured more frustration at 18, when he drilled his drive straight down the middle but pushed his second into the greenside bunker on the right, his ball plugging on the upslope close to the face.
He managed to gouge his ball out to 10 feet, but the putt for a closing birdie was offline as he had to settle for “just” a 65 which he will doubtless feel was the highest score he could have posted on the day.
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May 26, 2018, 11:30am
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