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."
Danish golfer Thomas Bjorn lines up his putt on the 18th green during the first round of the PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey, southwest of London, on Thursday May ...