Molinari hits the front at Wentworth while McIlroy toils

Thu May 21, 2015 3:15pm EDT
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By Tony Jimenez

VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - Francesco Molinari has gone three years without a win but his golfing radar was back in good working order as he raced into a two-shot lead with an opening 65 at the BMW PGA Championship on Thursday.

The 32-year-old Italian crammed seven birdies in a flawless seven-under-par effort at Wentworth while world number one Rory McIlroy could only manage a 71 on a day of unbroken sunshine on the outskirts of London.

Swede Robert Karlsson was in second place on 67, one ahead of Spanish pair Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jorge Campillo, British duo Marc Warren and Chris Wood and 2009 U.S. PGA Championship winner YE Yang.

It was world number 66 Molinari, though, who was head and shoulders above everyone else and his performance strengthened the depth of feeling he has for the European Tour's flagship event.

"I love this place," the former Ryder Cup player told reporters. "I've played very well here the last few years and it's very good to be back.

"I think I missed only one green. It rewards accuracy more than others so it suits my game."

Molinari has finished in the top 10 here for the last three years and is hoping another good week can help him get back in the world's top 50.

"It's a great start but unfortunately nothing more than that," said the 2012 Spanish Open champion. "We don't get the trophy on the first day so I need to keep my head down and do the same tomorrow and Saturday and Sunday."   Continued...

Italy's Francesco Molinari in action during the first round
Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs