Day 4 Update
After putting himself into contention on Saturday with an impressive score of 69, Rory McIlroy followed it up with a spectacular Day 4 score of six-under-par 66 and won the 2014 BMW PGA Championship.
McIlroy sat in fourth coming into the final day of play, but his great Sunday score coupled with the lackluster play of Thomas Bjorn, Shane Lowry and Joost Luiten led him to the championship victory.
Here is a look at the final leaderboard after Sunday’s wild ending, courtesy of EuropeanTour.com.
|Finish||Player||Final Score||Day 4 Score|
With the pressure on the leaders to stay out front and McIlroy playing his game, he surprisingly started slow with two bogeys on the front nine holes. The Irish star added an eagle and a birdie in that stretch as well and helped build confidence for the back nine.
The back nine was an entirely different story. Not only did he make five birdies and avoid a bogey in the last nine holes, but he also managed to birdie the 17th and 18th holes on his way to a late victory.
While Lowry had a great round on Day 4—he shot a 68 on Sunday—the pressure of holding the lead was too much for him and he struggled to maintain his composure down the stretch. Unlike Lowry, though, Bjorn completely came apart with a three-over-par score that ruined his chance at victory.
Shane Bacon of Yahoo Sports talked about the success and of McIlroy despite dealing with personal issues of the course:
Back nine 32 for Rory McIlroy. Sunday 66, leads by two, incredible week for a guy going through some personal stuff.— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) May 25, 2014
Think Rory was very locked in on the back nine? pic.twitter.com/7CMUE4xi7N— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) May 25, 2014
The biggest issue in McIlroy’s career has been his inconsistency. While there have been plenty of examples of this over the last two years, his performance this week at BMW PGA Championship was a showcase of his ability to perform well over the course of four rounds.
If McIlroy can carry this momentum as the tour heads into Major season—U.S. Open in June, Open Championship in July and the PGA Championship in August—he will be a serious contender to win his third major championship.
Day 3 Update
After essentially holding steady during Friday's second round of the BMW PGA Championship, Rory McIlroy made a move Saturday and put himself in contention entering the final round, although he'll have plenty of work to do.
The Northern Irish phenom got off to an inauspicious start in the third round, but he rebounded nicely to card a three-under 69, which puts him at eight-under par for the tournament in a tie for fourth place, seven strokes behind leader Thomas Bjorn.
Here is a look at the leaders entering Sunday, courtesy of EuropeanTour.com.
|Place||Player||To Par||Round 3 Score|
It initially looked like it might be a difficult day for McIlroy as things started off in a nightmarish way. After parring the par-four first in each of the first two rounds, McIlroy got into a bit of trouble Saturday.
McIlroy wasn't alone either as both he and Bjorn posted double bogeys to kick off their respective rounds, according to Irish Times Sport:
McIlroy and then Thomas Bjorn double bogeys the first and Shane Lowry now has a 2-shot lead on 10 under after his first hole at Wentworth.— Irish Times Sport (@IrishTimesSport) May 24, 2014
As it turns out, that was literally the only hiccup that McIlroy would experience. The remainder of his round was squeaky clean, including five birdies from the second hole on to complete a three-under day.
The sudden swings in McIlroy's play have happened quite often over the past couple years. Inconsistency may be the one thing prevented McIlroy from regaining his No. 1 form. As pointed out by Brian Rowan of the Belfast Telegraph, McIlroy is as unpredictable of a player as there is in the sport today:
Great line - Sky commentator Wayne Riley on McIlroy's golf "like a box of chocolates, never quite sure what you're going to get".— Brian Rowan (@BrianPJRowan) May 24, 2014
After finishing the front nine with an even 35, McIlroy enjoyed a very strong back nine. He picked up three birdies during the second half of his round, including one on the 11th hole that put him within striking distance of the lead, per NBC Golf Central:
With a birdie at No. 11 Rory McIlroy joins 8 other players at -6, 3 shots off the @BMWPGA Championship lead.— Golf Central (@GolfCentral) May 24, 2014
McIlroy proceeded to birdie No. 12 and No. 17, but he actually lost ground. That had nothing to do with his play, rather Bjorn went on an absolute tear to close out his round.
Bjorn gave himself a huge lead after the first round with a 62 and he built upon it Saturday by shooting a 67. The great Dane birdied seven of his final eight holes, so he holds his own fate in his hands entering the final round.
As far as McIlroy's game is concerned, though, it is difficult to not be impressed. Even McIlroy himself is happy with how he is performing as evidenced by his comments to Ewan Murray of The Guardian following his second-round showing Friday.
Hopefully I can make a run at it. I have exceeded my expectations so far. I don't know about exceeding them wildly, but reasonably at least. I honestly didn't know what to expect here. I didn't know what was going to happen and didn't know how I was going to feel. So to be in here for the weekend and to be in with a chance is good.
McIlroy carried his positive feelings over to Saturday with another solid round, but he will need an excellent performance coupled with a bit of help on Sunday to pick up his first win of the year.
Bjorn showed some vulnerability on the front nine Saturday before dominating the back. If the front-nine version of Bjorn returns in the final round, then the door will be open for McIlroy and others.
Even if McIlroy can't make it all the way to the top, a second-place finish is very much within reach as he is just two strokes behind Luke Donald. That wouldn't do as much for McIlroy's confidence as a win, but it would help with the U.S. Open approaching.
McIlroy isn't playing his best golf by any means, but he continues to string good rounds together and is getting closer to optimal form.
Day 2 Update
Rory McIlroy struggled early in Round 2 of the BMW PGA Championship on Friday, but recovered on the back nine to register a one-under-par score of 71, which should be good enough to keep the Northern Irishman in contention heading into the weekend.
McIlroy finished his second round tied for fourth on five-under, having been one of the earliest to tee off. He returned to the clubhouse four strikes behind leader Thomas Bjorn, who still had 16 holes to play.
|Place||Player||To Par||Round 2 Score|
|*Scores at end of McIlroy's round|
Difficult weather conditions have plagued the course at Wentworth, with strong winds contributing to a number of higher scores on Friday. The Championship's Twitter account shared this image of the start of McIlroy's second round, with the star golfer wearing a jacket to protect himself against the weather:
McIlroy had a strong opening round with a score of 68 on Thursday, including a magnificent eagle.
But Friday started with two bogeys on his first three holes, and while the 25-year-old was able to recover with a birdie on the fourth for the second consecutive day, a double-bogey at the seventh put McIlroy in early trouble.
StanJames.com couldn't help but crack a joke at the player's expense at the end of a week in which he called off his engagement to Caroline Wozniacki:
Rory McIlroy double bogeys the 7th to drop back to -1 at the BMW... not the only mare he's had this week either #Wozniacki— StanJames.com (@stanjames) May 23, 2014
Having reached the turn in 38, McIlroy was able to gain control of his swing with an eagle at the 12th, before back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th holes made sure he wouldn't lose too much ground on the clubhouse leaders.
National Club Golfer was impressed with the way the two-time major winner ended his day:
Brilliant finish from Rory McIlroy: an eagle and three birdies in his last seven holes turn an outward 38 into a 71. He's currently T4th. DM— National Club Golfer (@NCGmagazine) May 23, 2014
McIlroy once again made up for a number of avoidable mistakes with moments of inspiration, something the player himself acknowledged after his first round on Thursday, as he told the BBC:
"The eagles helped the scorecard a lot. Any time you have two eagles in a round, you are going to do pretty well. For the most part, I played solid. I tried to focus on each shot as it came."
The course at Wentworth has never really suited McIlroy's aggressive game, and his 2014 season is yet to truly take off with the U.S. Open fast approaching. McIlroy told the BBC's Iain Carter he needed to eradicate the mental mistakes ahead of the BMW PGA Championship:
"It's more mental, making bad decisions, going for pins where you don't need to. Missing fairways on the wrong side, just things like that."
Those same mental mistakes once again followed him in his second round, but the handful of truly brilliant shots on the back-nine show there is little wrong with McIlroy's technical form.
The major worry will be his inability to play his way out of trouble. McIlroy completed only two of six scramble attempts and was 0-3 for sand saves, per the European Tour, intensifying pressure on his work tee to green.
A strong round during the weekend could yet give the youngster a bright end to a horror week ahead of the U.S. Open, a tournament that has been far kinder to McIlroy than the BMW PGA Championship.
Day 1 Update
With the U.S. Open less than a month away, Rory McIlroy began his march toward the second major of the season Thursday by completing the first round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club in Virginia Water, Surrey, England.
The Northern Irish star likely had plenty on his mind, but it didn't seem to adversely affect him on the course, as he came through with a solid four-under 68, which placed him in a tie for eighth when he entered the clubhouse.
Here is what the top of the leaderboard looks like currently, courtesy of EuropeanTour.com:
|Place||Player||To Par||Rd 1 Score|
|T3||Rafa Cabrera-Bello||-6||Thru 17|
The BMW PGA Championship is among the European Tour's biggest events, so McIlroy has plenty of top-notch competition to get through in order to win the tournament for the first time in his career.
McIlroy made plenty of headlines leading up to the event, but they were related to his personal life rather than his on-course performance.
His relationship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki has arguably been the most-publicized one in all of sports over the past couple years, but it came to an abrupt and shocking end Wednesday.
According to ESPN.com, McIlroy released a statement regarding the breakup, which came just after the couple sent out invitations for the wedding they had planned.
The problem is mine. The wedding invitations issued at the weekend made me realize that I wasn't ready for all that marriage entails. I wish Caroline all the happiness she deserves and thank her for the great times we've had. I will not be saying anything more about our relationship in any setting.
Despite the firestorm surrounding his decision to call things off, McIlroy insisted upon playing in the BMW PGA Championship, per Derek Lawrenson of Daily Mail.
There's no good time to end a relationship and I made a commitment to be here. It's the flagship event on the European Tour and I'm very proud to be a member. I thought it was my duty to come back and play in this event. Once I gave my word that I would, I wasn't going to go back on it. I'm here to try to concentrate on this week and answer questions about golf and that's what I'm going to do.
McIlroy didn't show any ill effects in the first round, although Wozniacki admitted in a tweet that she was going through a difficult time:
It's a hard time for me right now.Thanks for all the sweet messages!Happy I support Liverpool right now because I know I'll never walk alone— Caroline Wozniacki (@CaroWozniacki) May 22, 2014
After a tough 2013 season on the course, McIlroy is still looking to fully rebound this year. Although he has yet to win a tournament, he has made all eight cuts and finished in the top 10 on six occasions, so it seems as though he is rounding back into form.
McIlroy has fallen all the way to No. 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking after previously reaching a high-water mark of No. 1; however, he may be trending upwards.
Thursday's first round saw McIlroy get off to an uneven start, as he carded two pars, two birdies and two bogeys through the first six holes. That volatility wasn't really present throughout the rest of the day, though.
McIlroy made a couple spectacular shots, one of which came on the par-four seventh hole. According to Iain Carter of BBC Sport, McIlroy drained a long-range shot for eagle to make a move up the leaderboard:
McIlroy's first genuine smile of the week. Holed 130 yard wedge for eagle at seventh. From one over to one under par. #BMWPGA— Iain Carter (@iaincartergolf) May 22, 2014
He then followed that up with four consecutive pars before brilliance struck once again on the par-five 12th. McIlroy eagled once again, although he just missed a rare albatross, per Emmet Riordan of the Irish Times:
Rory McIlroy comes up 3 inches short of an albatross and has tap-in for second eagle of his round.I suppose it goes in the bounce back stats— Emmet Riordan (@emmetrd) May 22, 2014
Everything seemed to be trending in McIlroy's favor at that point, but he got into some trouble when he bogeyed the 17th hole. Rather than folding and letting that bother him, McIlroy bounced back by notching a birdie on No. 18 and salvaging a solid round of 68.
How will McIlroy fare in this tournament?
McIlroy is in the mix, although he has a ton of work to do in order to get near the top. Thomas Bjorn had an absolutely dominant day with a 10-under 62, so the majority of the field is playing catch-up at this point.
Bjorn almost certainly won't continue his assault on the course to that degree, but McIlroy needs to put up some low numbers over the next couple rounds to truly get within striking distance.
McIlroy played extremely well for much of the day, but a couple miscues cost him some strokes that he would love to have back. If he can limit those and replicate some of the big shots he hit, then he will be a contender.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.