VIRGINIA WATER England (Reuters) - Dane Thomas Bjorn and Irishman Shane Lowry led the way after the BMW PGA Championship second round on Friday as tricky pin placements, squally winds and intermittent rain made good scoring tough.
Only a handful of players broke 70 and twice former winner Luke Donald fared best, the Englishman plotting his way to a five-under 67 to move into a share of third place with Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello (73) on six-under 138, four strokes off the pace.
Bjorn, who on Thursday shot a 62 to post the lowest score in relation to par in the 60-year history of the event, followed up his spectacular opening effort with a level-par 72 while Lowry returned a 70.
World number three Henrik Stenson (71), who has a chance to leapfrog Australian Adam Scott at the top of the rankings this week, was tied for fifth on 139 with fellow Swede Jonas Blixt (71), double major winner Rory McIlroy (71) and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti (72).
”This is never an easy course,“ Donald told reporters at a soggy Wentworth. ”I was as amazed as you guys with Thomas’s score - 10 under is pretty good.
”There were some accessible pins yesterday, today there were a few more difficult ones. Obviously scoring was a bit tougher.
“When we first went out it was raining and windy and it wasn’t very nice. I think we all thought we were going to struggle with the conditions,” added Donald who won the European Tour’s flagship event in 2011 and 2012.
“I holed some long putts today, which is a bonus, but I was happy with the progress of my long game as well. Being nine behind after the first day seemed a mountain to climb but I‘m now back in position to have a chance to win this championship again.”
Former world number one Donald, who has been based in Chicago for several years, said he would reward himself with a tasty evening meal.
“I might enjoy a little curry,” he explained. “It’s hard to find a good curry back in the States and there are always good ones around here.”
The 43-year-old Bjorn, who led Lowry by two strokes at the start of the round, was not helped after one of his playing partners, South African Retief Goosen, was forced to withdraw because of injury.
”It was impossible to find a good rhythm after Retief left us after five holes,“ said 15-times tour winner Bjorn. ”We got caught in a two-ball.
“It seemed like we were waiting for a long time on a lot of shots. It was extremely difficult and when conditions are tough you want to get into a rhythm, keep yourself warm and get on with it.”
Lowry, without a victory since the 2012 Portugal Masters, ended his round in style by picking up strokes at the par-five 17th and 18th.
”To finish birdie-birdie was nice,“ said the 27-year-old. ”That’s what it’s all about, forgetting your mistakes and trying to get on with things.
“My two mistakes were both three-putts. I just have to go out there over the weekend and keep doing what I‘m doing.”
The 30-kph winds and driving rain distracted most of the players but the conditions provided something of a golfing sanctuary for world number 10 McIlroy.
The Northern Irishman is still hurting after scrapping his planned wedding to Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki and was pleased to be able to focus solely on the day job.
“Once you get inside the ropes you’re concentrating on your golf and it’s almost like four or five hours of a release to get everything out of your head apart from doing the job at hand,” said McIlroy.
“It’s nice. It’s the hours in the day when you’re away from it that are probably a little more difficult - you can’t let your mind wander at all when you’re trying to win a golf tournament.”
Four-times major winner Ernie Els, who has masterminded a redesign of the course over the last eight years, was among several high-profile casualties of the halfway cut.
Former U.S. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, 2011 British Open winner Darren Clarke and title holder Matteo Manassero of Italy also failed to make it through to the weekend.
Editing by Justin Palmer