A Sombre & Humble McIlroy Takes Full Advantage Of A ‘Gettable’ Wentworth Course

A remarkably sombre and very humble  Rory McIlroy took full advantage of a ‘gettable’ host course birdied his closing two holes to be just one off the lead, with a round to play in the shortened 54-hole flagship BMW PGA Championship.

McIlroy, winner of the in 2014, is also now one round shy of capturing back-to-back titles on both sides of ‘The Pond, after recently landing a record-setting third FedEx Cup crown.

On the leaderboards about the West Course the Scandinavian duo of Soren Kjeldsen and Viktor Hovland lead the way at 12-under par, with the 47-year-old Danish-born Kjeldsen bouncing back from a first hole bogey in posting an eight-under 64 and the 24-year Norwegian-born Hovland signing for a 68.

However it was a far bigger worldwide picture playing out at Wentworth, following the shock news late on Thursday of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Thirty players were left on the course when the siren sounded to halt play around 6.30pm on day one, and then notice there would be no play on Friday and Wentworth close to all.

Flags were a half-mast when play resumed early on Saturday, with the players returning and the fans flocking back to Tour HQ but it was very much a heavy heart for all mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

There was a two-minute silence just prior to 10am as a mark of respect following the passing of the Queen, and with players, caddies and officials sporting a black ribbon as a  mark of respect and with McIlroy offering his respect to the British monarch, who he had met in attending Buckingham Palace in late 2011 when awarded an MBE.

“I have been thinking about it a lot as she was dignity, dedication and greatness personified,” McIlroy said.  “She was a great lady who I had the honour of meeting once before.  Yeah, it’s a sad day but also a celebration of her life.  She provided a steadiness of this country that no other has, and I’m sure the scenes over the next few weeks are going to be incredible as they should be, as she was an incredible woman.”

And while McIlroy’s comments mirrored the British nation who are paying tribute to the deceased 96-old monarch, Kjeldsen summed-up the impact of the Queen’s passing has been like for those non-British and other Commonwealth nation players competing this week at Tour HQ.

 “With the time I’ve spent here in the UK, we have some idea of what she meant to the British public,” said the Dane. “I was still surprised yesterday like how affected people were. It was quite incredible, really, and heart-warming to see how important a person she’s been and how loved she was. Incredible. It was — obviously in a way it was nice to celebrate her life today.

“It was very special. Obviously being a foreigner, but having lived here, it’s quite overwhelming to know actually that the queen has meant to the British people, so I was sort of taken back by that. She was obviously incredibly loved and did a great job. It was a special moment.”

And there was Aussie Min Woo Lee, posting a blistering 10-under-par 62 that had it not been a preferred ‘clean-and-place’ rule would have tied the Wentworth course record.

Lee’s second round, and 14 shots fewer than his opening day’s effort, included two eagles and with the second at the par-4 15th where he sensationally holed a 192-yard second shot, along with seven birdies and a bogey on 17.

The Perth golfer joined other Wentworth players in heading into the heart of London and to Buckingham Palace to pay their respects to the late Queen.

“It was just a shock. I mean, it doesn’t happen obviously often, and to the golfing community, as well, we had to stop and a bit of mourning there,” said Lee. “It was a shock. I had finished my round when I got the news and it’s not really what you want to hear. Yeah, we’ve went down to Buckingham Palace with a few of the boys yesterday and paid our respects to her.

“Yeah, we are back and playing golf, and hopefully we can just keep smiles on our faces and play good golf.”

There was a special moment of sorts for McIlroy early and late, firstly he capped his second round landing his second shot at the par-5 fourth hole to around 10-feet and holed the eagle ‘3’ putt.

Then at the penultimate his drive cannoned off the trees down the left side and thankfully kicked-back into the centre of the fairway. From there McIllroy landed his second some 24-yards shy of the green, chipped to three-and-a-half foot and holed the birdie ‘4’ putt.  It was the fourth birdie in a ‘I’m very much here’ display from the FedEx Cup champion heading to the final round.

McIlroy was pin-high right with his second into the last and while just missing the eagle ‘3’ putt, it was a comfortable birdie to hand him a 65 and see him join Belgium’s Thomas Detry and Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello, and each also shooting 65, tied in third place.

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