Rory McIlroy holds his nerve with birdie amid farcical scenes at Wentworth
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Following an 80-minute due to early morning fog, the second day’s play at Wentworth finished amid farcical scenes which saw four groups waiting on the 18th tee and Thomas Bjorn exchanging words with a drunk spectator up ahead on the closing hole.
With the 18th green predominantly illuminated by the light from a giant scoreboard, Mcllroy two-putted from 45 feet for birdie to finish on the projected cut mark of one under par.
The four-time major will have to wait until the second round is completed on Saturday morning to learn his fate, while playing partner Ludvig Aberg continued his brilliant form by sharing the lead with fellow Swede Sebastian Soderberg on 10 under.
Asked to describe the late-night drama, McIlroy said: “It was a s***show.
“The fog obviously delayed things but I’ve never remembered having that many players on 17 and 18. It’s not as if they teed us off in tighter slots or anything.
“It’s hard for me trying to play the last well and make the cut, it’s a bit of a mad dash and a scramble to get finished. I don’t know what you could do about that apart from less players in the field.”
Soderberg had earlier made an eagle on the 18th to complete a superb 64 and set the clubhouse target which was matched by Aberg, who birdied the 16th, 17th and 18th in his 66.
The Swedish pair enjoyed a one-shot lead over Adrian Meronk, Tommy Fleetwood, Thomas Detry and Masahiro Kawamura, with Tyrrell Hatton on seven under and Jon Rahm and Matt Fitzpatrick another stroke back.
Meronk said last week he was “shocked, sad and angry” not to receive a pick from Europe captain Luke Donald, especially after winning his third DP World Tour title in the space of 10 months in May’s Italian Open at the Ryder Cup venue on the outskirts of Rome.
“I have accepted it,” the 30-year-old Pole said at Wentworth.
“The first couple of days after were tough, but I have moved on and am focused on my game. I want to finish the season strongly and that is my only goal now.
“I know it’s easy to say, but it’s like having a bad round and letting it go. This one was a little bit tougher to accept because it wasn’t based on me and someone else made that decision.
“I definitely think it is wrong. I feel I’ve deserved it. I feel I’ve shown in the last two years that I’ve played really good on the DP World Tour. If you look at the results and the numbers, I thought it was enough, but there’s nothing I can do now.
“But I have been pretty good at accepting things in my career. I’m trying to turn all that disappointment and anger into motivation, especially this week.”
Meronk, who received shouts of encouragement in Polish as he completed his round, believes the captain having six wild cards is too many and that one should be held back until after the end of the DP World Tour’s flagship event.
“I’d say that four would probably be reasonable and I think leaving one or two picks for these big tournaments would be a good idea,” he added.
“This time the team has been picked basically after a four-week break and then playing two small events. I think one spot should be reserved after this week at least.”
Rahm looked in danger of missing the halfway cut when he thinned his second shot on the first into the face of a fairway bunker and ran up a double bogey, before also dropping a shot on the third.
However, the Masters champion responded with an eagle on the fourth, chipped in to save par on the sixth and covered his last 10 holes in six under par.
“None of those swings felt bad, it was just an unfortunate thing to happen on the first but you have put it on the fairway around here,” said Rahm, who carded a closing 62 here last year to finish runner-up for the second time in two starts.