Molinari bounces back to retain lead

European Tour

Francesco Molinari recovered from a poor start to hold on to a one-shot lead in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

The Italian’s lead was wiped out after he bogeyed two of the first holes, but he flawless from that point on, adding five birdies for a three-under-par 69 and a 10 under total.

“I’m really happy,” said Molinari.

“The start is really tricky the first three holes. I think I played them okay. My chipping wasn’t good enough on the first and on the third to save par. I managed to steady the ship and made a few birdies coming in at the end, so a good day.

“Obviously I’m delighted to have gone a little bit further under par from yesterday and just need to keep doing the same. I know how hard I’ve been working the last few months, so it’s nice to see that it’s paying off on the course.”

Molinari lies one shot clear of South Korea’s Byeong Hun An, who rocketed up the leaderboard late in the day with a superb bogey-free, eight-birdie 64.

Lying in third on eight under are Emiliano Grillo, who shot a 65, and Thongchai Jaidee, who added a 66.

Grillo had two big moments, holing a bunker shot on the 12th and then hitting his approach from 255 yards on the 18th stone dead to set up another eagle.

“I am enjoying the moment and playing well and being in contention is what I need. If I keep knocking someone is going to open the door,” said the Argentine.

“I’ve been looking for a win since I turned pro and it’s going to come soon. There’s a lot going on when you are in contention and you have to be prepared.

“Playing well definitely pushes the confidence up and it’s nice to be on the leaderboard every week. This is a big week, the Flagship Event of The European Tour and it would be great to win.”

Local hope James Morrison, fresh off his victory at the Open de Espana, is in fifth place on seven under after rounds of 71 and 66.

The big news further down the field was that defending champion Rory McIlroy missed the cut after a disastrous 78.

The World No 1 made six bogeys and a double bogey in an erratic round, made all the more mystifying considering his recent form, which has seen him win multiple titles in the US.

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