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McIlroy slumps to opening-round 74, Donald disappoints

ESPN staff
May 23, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Rory McIlroy struggled on the opening day of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth © PA Photos
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BMW PGA Championship leaderboard

Rory McIlroy's off-course issues seemed to be playing on his mind as he stumbled to an opening round 74 to end day one of the BMW PGA Championship on two-over par.

The Northern Irishman's build-up to the Wentworth showpiece was marred by reports of a split from management group Horizon Sports and a rift with good friend and fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell.

And when McIlroy holed his fourth birdie of the day at 12, it looked like he was going to be the man to beat on day one. But a run of three straight bogeys from 13 to 15 followed by two more at 17 and 18 saw the world no. 2 plummet down the leaderboard.

"I played well enough out there I just didn't get enough out of the round," McIlroy told Sky Sports. "Even at three-under through 12 I felt it could have been a little bit better. And when things started to not go my way, I just didn't hold it together too well."

Later he wrote on Twitter: "Had a decent round going today. Ruined by a terrible finish! Upside is that I'm inside and warm and have tomorrow to get those shots back!"

McDowell will also start the second round at two-over par after a double bogey at the 18th. The former US Open champion had previously parred every hole, except for a birdie on ten which he immediately cancelled out with bogey at 11.

Also finding trouble at the end of his round was Justin Rose. The Englishman was three-under on the 17th tee before a bogey-double bogey finish dropped him back to level par.

Leading the way for British hopefuls is Glaswegian Scott Henry at four-under and Englishman Oliver Fisher two shots back. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano moved into tied-third with Henry later in the day - with the schedule delayed by an hour-and-a-half due to poor weather.

Henry, who was playing on the third-tier Alps Tour just two years ago, carded an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys on his Wentworth debut, while Fisher birdied four of the last seven holes to also finish below par.

South African Jamie Kingston, currently world No. 297, is the clubhouse leader at six-under, one ahead of Finn Mikko Ilonen.

Champion Luke Donald endured an extremely difficult start to the defence of his title as he hit a six-over 78, landing five bogeys on the course and a double bogey on the eighth hole.

"I got off to a very slow start, it felt like I had no rhythm and feel," Donald said. "I don't know if it was the cold but I was struggling to feel my hands a little bit. Even when I had my opportunities I didn't take them."

There were solid showings from Matteo Manassero and George Coetzee, who are tied for fifth and three shots adrift, while Martin Kaymer is two-under and four strokes behind Kingston.

Lee Westwood carded a round of 70 to finish on two-under, while the man who has made all the headlines for the wrong reasons Sergio Garcia hit a par-72 and sits tied for 46th on the leaderboard, rescuing his round with an eagle on the final hole when he was two-over and struggling.

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