“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”
On a day of bibiical proportions for Ireland’s big name challengers in the BMW PGA Championship - it was a plague of locusts for Rory McIlroy (74), Graeme McDowell (74) and Padraig Harrington (76) - some of the lesser lights shone brighest and some old glories sparked again on a scorching day on the famous Burma Road.
At the head of the posse alongside David Drysdale stood an inspired Peter Lawrie, at odds with his putting for more than a year, as he signed for an immaculate 66 that could easily have been two better had a couple of 10 footers not come up fractionally short on the last two greens.
There were two under 70’s for 40 year old Kerryman David Higgins and Ballyclare’s Gareth Maybin while Open champion Darren Clarke (belly putter and all) earned from respite from his nearly year long Sandwich hangover with a 71 that left him tied with two of Ireland’s young talents, Shane Lowry and domestic PGA king Barrie Trainor.
As Lawrie jokingly put it when informed that an Irishman has never won at Wentworth or that Harry Bradshaw in 1958 at Llandudno remains our only PGA winner:
“I couldn’t really tell you but the Irish are on the up. We have won a couple of Opens, and watch out, the Irish are here to stay.”
Lawrie’s round featured an eagle and three birdies in his first six holes and another gain at the 11th. But the main incredient was patience, which was sorely lacking from McIlroy and Harrington, who bogeyed the first and then took three to get out of a bunker at the short second and racked up a triple bogey six that ruined his day before it had started.
McIlroy was two under after seven but lost it around the turn when he missed a series of short putts to bogey the eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th before losing his patience at the 12th. A tugged approach left him out of bounds “by an inch” and when he bunkered his fourth shot and gave a passable Tiger Woods impression, release-flinging his club in disgust and will surely be fined a five-figure sum by the European Tour for his pains.
He made two birdies coming home but sandwiched them between the unappetising filling of a double bogey six at the 16th. Golf.com’s Paul Mahoney said he had never seen him so angry coming off the course.
Talk of couch potato police is a little over the top as it was patently obvious to even the most short sighted viewer that the Ulsterman’s ball and moved as he approached it in spongy undergrowth right of the 18th.
McDowell had an inkling it had moved as he headed in to survey his lie but didn’t call a rules official, chipped out and got done by TV evidence. Not only had it moved, he hadn’t replaced it. The cruelty of the situation was underlined by the fact that McDowell was expected to replace a ball he did not know had moved.
The whole incident might have been avoided had Thomas Bjorn not taken an age to get a ruling on the 17th that cost McDowell his focus and his rhythm. Predictably, he carved his tee shot at the 18th well into the jungle.
Click here for audio reaction from McIlroy and McDowell to their woes (via BBC).