Rory McIlroy is just two shots off the early lead at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth after he opened with a five-under par round of 67 in Surrey.
The World No.8, who said in his press conference on Wednesday that he was hopeful a win here could set him up for a big summer like in 2014, impressed around the West Course with a strong back nine of four-under par without a dropped shot taking him into a tie for third.
“It was nice to get off to a good start,” said former champion McIlroy. “I gave myself plenty of chances, drove it well and hit my irons a lot better.”
Danish player Lucas Bjerregaard holds the early lead at the European Tour’s flagship event after he fired a sparkling bogey-free seven-under round of 65, with South Africans Dean Burmester and Darren Fichardt finishing a shot ahead of McIlroy at six-under.
McIlroy’s fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell, in the week he was named as a vice-captain at this year’s Ryder Cup, finished on one-under for his opening round, while Dungannon’s Darren Clarke withdrew with an injury sustained in Tuesday’s practice round.
Of the Irish challengers, Shane Lowry sits at three-under par and Paul Dunne is at one-under, but Padraig Harrington struggled to a six-over 78.