McIlroy rises to the challenge at rainy Wentworth

Ulster man recovers brilliantly after a dreadful start to sign for a 71

Rory McIlroy  completes his round oon  day two of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy completes his round oon day two of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Sat, May 24, 2014, 01:00

His mobile phone has remained switched off, the laptop out of harm’s way and the golf course has become his sanctuary.

For Rory McIlroy, putting his golfing exploits above the break-up with fiancée Caroline Wozniacki was a tall order heading into the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth; but he has made more than a decent fist of it. Challenging In manoeuvring into a challenging position at the midway stage of the European Tour’s flagship tournament, the 25-year-old, who has traditionally struggled over the West Course here, has sought to let his golf clubs do the talking.

Not known as the greatest of wet-weather players, yesterday McIlroy battled through near-incessant rain in shutting out outside distractions.

He overcame a nervy, hesitant start – which saw him drop three shots in his opening seven holes – to cover the homeward run in eagle-bogey-par-birdie-birdie-par-birdie to sign for a 71 for 139, five-under-par.

After each round, he has stopped and talked. No running. The order is ordained, with the fee-payers getting first dibs. Sky Sports and their techie video screen built on a golf buggy. The Golf Channel. European Tour. BBC Radio 5. Talksport. Then, the print hacks.

Somehow, some way, McIlroy has managed to get on with the task of playing a golf tournament on a course that has never been his friend.

Had he surprised himself that he had managed to retain his focus? “In a way, yes, but I think once you get inside the ropes, you’re concentrating on your golf. Like a release “And it’s almost like it’s a nice four or five hours (away), it’s like a release in some ways to get everything our of your head apart from doing the job at hand.

“ It’s the hours in the day when you’re away from (playing) that are probably a little more difficult.”

On Thursday, he holed out for an eagle on the par four seventh; yesterday, he became its fall guy, with a double-bogey . Thereafter, it was a case of rolling up the sleeves. And he did, in style.

“Standing on the 10th tee, my goal was to get back to even par for the day,” admitted McIlroy. As it happened, he went one better, helped in no small way by an eagle for the second day running on the par five 12th hole where he hit a seven-iron approach.

“I’m still playing quite conservatively for me, but it has helped that it’s softer because you can be a little more aggressive. I feel like I am playing well enough to get myself in the mix going into Sunday. Hopefully I can do that.”

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