McIlroy hits form but Bjorn takes charge
By Adam Hathaway ,AFP
May 24, 2014, 12:05 am TWN
WENTWORTH, United Kingdom -- Rory McIlroy had his best round for three years at Wentworth as the European PGA Championship got under way, but he was trumped by a new course record for Denmark's Thomas Bjorn.
McIlroy — in the spotlight following his split with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki — fired a four-under par 68, which included two eagles, but Bjorn carded a ten-under par 62.
Bjorn shot eight birdies and an eagle in a ten-under par 62 to take early command before a rain delay and a quarter of the field will have to finish their first rounds on Friday.
Ireland's Shane Lowry is Bjorn's closest pursuer after handing in a 64, Spain's Rafa Cabrera-Bello had a 65 whilst France's Gary Stal signed for a 66.
The 43-year-old Bjorn played the back nine in 30, seven-under par, and finished with eight birdies and eagle to equal Robert Karlsson's mark set back in 2010.
Karlsson's 62 was against a par of 71, rather than the current 72, and Bjorn's score has now been officially recognized as the record on the altered lay-out.
Bjorn's score is the lowest ever opening round in the 60-year history of the tournament - the European Tour's flagship event.
McIlroy holed a pitching wedge approach shot from 130-yards for an eagle on the par-4 seventh and hit a 5-iron 203 yards to within a foot for his second eagle on the 12th.
He has a poor record at Wentworth, missing the cut in the last two years, but looks primed to get to the last two rounds despite his off-course distractions.
McIlroy said: "At times it was difficult but once I got over the shots I started to concentrate on them - I am just trying to put my head into golf.
"It was my best round at Wentworth for a while and I am excited to try and shoot something even better.
"I would be delighted to make the weekend because I haven't done that the last couple of years."