Lowry, Bjorn share halfway lead

European Tour

Shane Lowry and Thomas Bjorn are tied for the lead of the BMW PGA Championship after Friday’s second round at Wentworth.

On a day that was difficult to post low scores, Bjorn had to settle for a level par 72 to remain on 10-under after his course-record equalling round of 62 on Thursday.

Ireland’s Lowry joined the Dane on 10-under when he carded 70 to finish four strokes ahead of England’s Luke Donald (67) and Rafael Cagrera-Bello of Spain (73) in second place.

The 27-year-old from Mullingar is dwindling down in 165th place on the Race to Dubai standings after a poor couple of months on the European Tour, but the Irishman has seemingly found some form in the wet conditions of Wentworth.

Although his best finish on the European Tour this season was a tie for 15th place at the Spanish Open last week, the Irishman finished fourth in the BMW Championship in 2012 and 12th the following year.

“I was mentally there and really enjoyed it, it was good out there today,” Lowry said from the clubhouse after his round.

“It was tough for the front nine with the rain and stuff but it was a nice back nine and I managed to take advantage of it.”

Bjorn started the round slowly, dropping two shots over the first seven holes, but was pleased after his round to have re-established himself at the top of the leaderboard, albeit in a share of the lead.

“Those were tough conditions for everybody out there today,” the 43-year-old Dane said.

“Especially on the front nine it was extremely difficult to get into a rhythm.

“We played those first four holes in I don’t know how long, and we had a couple of rulings in front of us. It was just impossible to find a good rhythm and Retief (Goosen) left us with a back injury after five holes, so we got caught in a two-ball.

“It just seems like all day we were waiting and waiting for a long time on a lot of these shots. It was a tough ask today so I was pretty pleased with the way I finished the round.”

After facing the real prospect of a missed cut, Rory McIlroy (71) rallied to finish in a tie for fifth place on five-under alongside Jonaz Blixt (71) Henrik Stenson (71) and Fabrizio Zanotti (72).

Bogeys at the second and third were followed by a birdie at the long fifth, but a near-disastrous double-bogey was to follow on the par-3 seventh after he fluffed a bunker shot.

That left McIlroy one under for the tournament and in real danger of missing the cut, but the Northern Irishman rallied beautifully after the turn, starting off with his second eagle of the week at the par-5 12th.

Another bogey followed at 13, but McIlroy would play his final four holes in three under, picking up birdies at the 15th, 16th and 18th to post a 71 that left him on five under par – good enough for tied sixth place as he completed his round on a day when precious few players were able to make any significant gains.

“I did not start off particularly well and made a mess of the seventh, but came back well and hit some quality shots on the back nine,” said McIlroy.

“Anything under par this morning was a decent score and to birdie three of the last four holes is pretty pleasing.”

“I have exceeded my expectations so far. Once you get inside the ropes you are concentrating on your golf and it’s almost a nice four or five-hour release to concentrate on the job at hand.

“I stood here yesterday saying that I would be happy to make the cut and I’m in for the weekend, which is nice. Hopefully I can make a run at it. I feel like I’m playing well enough to shoot something in the mid 60s and get myself in the mix going into Sunday.”

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