Francesco Molinari leads the way as Ryder Cup heroes crash out

McIlroy and McDowell amongst big names to miss cut at Wentworth

Francesco Molinari  tees off on the first hole during the second round of the BMW PGA Championship on the West Course at Wentworth. Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images

Francesco Molinari tees off on the first hole during the second round of the BMW PGA Championship on the West Course at Wentworth. Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images

Fri, May 24, 2013, 19:47

Italy’s Francesco Molinari set the clubhouse target on a miserable day at Wentworth as Ryder Cup team-mates Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Luke Donald, winner for the last two years, all bowed out of the European Tour’s flagship event.

World number two McIlroy had just one par, three birdies and five bogeys in a front nine of 37, but somehow scrambled seven pars in succession on the back nine despite a string of wayward drives before a double-bogey seven on the 17th ended his chances.

A birdie on the 18th saw McIlroy sign for a 75, the same mark as playing partner McDowell, and they both ended up on five over, three shots outside the projected cut.

McIlroy, who was again using a Scotty Cameron putter rather than the Nike club he is contracted to under his multi-million pound deal, said: “I’m definitely looking forward to getting back into some golf where I’m not playing in four layers.

“But it’s the same for everyone out there and that’s not really an excuse. I just didn’t play well. When I play in these conditions, I sort of try and do too much with the ball sometimes, I start to hit some bad shots and those bad shots obviously cost me.”

Shane Lowry will lead the Irish challenge into the weekend after he birdies the closing two holes for a 71 that leaves him three shots behind Molinari on three under.

Donald went into the second round insisting a hat-trick was not out of the question despite struggling to an opening 78, but the world number six could only manage a 72 on another cold and wet day to finish six over par.

That was 12 shots behind Molinari, who birdied the 18th to complete a 68 and lead by one from England’s Mark Foster, Scotland’s Marc Warren, Spain’s Alejandro Canizares and South African George Coetzee.

Sergio Garcia, embroiled in a race row since his “fried chicken” comment about Tiger Woods at the European Tour’s awards dinner on Tuesday, was five shots off the lead after a 71, with Nicolas Colsaerts a shot better off after a 70.

Darren Clarke will be in action over the weekend after a 70 left him on level par, while Damien McGrane, on one over, and the Dublin duo of Peter Lawrie and Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, on two over, are inside the cut mark.

David Higgins, Michael Hoey and Barrie Trainor will all miss the cut and look set to be joined by Gareth Maybin, who was six over with four holes to play.