Rory McIlroy insisted his game was still a work in progress despite a brilliant 65 putting him in pole position to claim a second BMW PGA Championship title.
McIlroy carded seven birdies in a flawless second round at Wentworth to set a daunting clubhouse target of 12 under par, five shots ahead of defending champion Alex Noren, Robert Rock and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
But the four-time major winner was also left to rue missing good chances on the first three holes and failing to birdie the 17th and 18th, both par fives, for the second day in succession.
“On the first three holes I hit it to six to eight feet and none of them went in and I thought ‘Here we go,’” McIlroy said. “But I played great after that. It was one of the best rounds of golf I’ve played this year, ball-striking-wise.
“There’s still a couple of loose shots in there, like the one on 18 [which plugged in a greenside bunker], but overall it was a great round of golf. I had everything sort of firing today and it was nice to take advantage of the opportunities I gave myself.
“There’s a lot of guys still to go out but hopefully I keep the lead and will be in the final group tomorrow. It will be nice to go out and feel that.
“It’s nice to live up to the billing [as pre-tournament favourite]. I really enjoy playing in front of these crowds. It’s incredible that they get up to watch us at 8am on a Friday morning and the atmosphere was great.”
After missing those early chances, McIlroy got the ball rolling with a birdie on the par-five fourth, before picking up further shots on the seventh and ninth to reach the turn in 32.
The 29-year-old then rattled off four birdies in succession from the 12th to match his lowest score at Wentworth, although that 65 in the third round in 2009 was compiled before the controversial course changes by Ernie Els the following year.
“All you ask for is giving yourself a chance every week,” added McIlroy, whose victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this season was his first since September 2016.
“I put myself in a good position after two days. Hopefully I’m in a good position after three days and then it will be nice to get out there on Sunday in a position where I can try to win a golf tournament and that would give me a huge bit of confidence going into the summer.”