Rory McIlroy cruises into three-shot lead halfway through BMW PGA

Nick Dougherty and two-time BMW PGA champion Luke Donald round up the second day's action at Wentworth, featuring Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood.

Rory McIlroy put himself in prime position for a second BMW PGA Championship title as he opened up a three-shot lead over the field at the halfway stage.

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McIlroy carded the first bogey-free round of his career over the West Course at Wentworth, making the most of excellent early-morning conditions to fire a seven-birdie 65 despite missing several further birdie chances over the front nine.

The 2014 champion was again unable to take advantage of either of the closing two par-fives, but his near-flawless ball-striking set up decent chances on virtually every hole as he cruised to 12 under for the tournament, three clear of European Tour rookie Sam Horsfield and Sebastian Gros with Tommy Fleetwood one further behind.

McIlroy, 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 delicate chip to four feet at the fourth resulted in his first red number of the round.

The 29-year-old 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.

Rory McIlroy celebrated his first bogey-free round at Wentworth as he cruised to a seven-under 65 on day two of the BMW PGA.

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, from where he gouged out to 10 feet but misread the putt for a 64.

Horsfield, who birdied six of the last eight holes in his opening 67, emerged as McIlroy’s leading challenger after he enjoyed another strong run of birdies on the inward nine.

Tommy Fleetwood discusses a big move up the BMW PGA Championship leaderboard at Wentworth.

The 21-year-old picked up four shots in five holes from the 12th to get within two shots of McIlroy’s lead, although he then faltered at the finish as he ran up a six at 17 and closed with a par to post a 68 – nine under for the tournament.

Horsfield will go out in Saturday’s final pair with the star attraction, while Gros earned a share of second as he returned a 66 playing in the final group of the day.

Gros starting the back-nine with two birdies and an eagle to race to nine under before the Frenchman offset another birdie at 14 with bogeys at 13 and 15, but he walked in an 18-foot putt for a four at the last to leapfrog Fleetwood.

The Englishman will be in the penultimate group after he staged a grandstand finish to vault to eight under. He was four under for the day before making only his second bogey of the week following a blocked approach to the 15th, but he responded with three straight birdies to return an impressive 66.

Defending BMW PGA champion Alex Noren was delighted to be seven under going into the weekend as he reflected on a second-round 68.

Defending champion Alex Noren, who was playing alongside McIlroy, overcame some early long-game issues and scrambled hard to keep a bogey off his card as the Swede fired a 68 to rise to seven under with Robert Rock, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Francesco Molinari.

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Newly-appointed Ryder Cup assistant captain Graeme McDowell continued to show that he is still a class act as a player as he fired a 67 to get to six under alongside Matt Fitzpatrick, who birdied four of the last seven holes to salvage a 71.

Lee Westwood emulated playing-partners McIlroy and Noren by handing in a fault-free card, although he managed only three birdies in a 69 that leaves him seven off the pace with former Wentworth member Ross Fisher (68).

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