Three late birdies gave England’s Justin Rose an early one stroke lead midway through the second round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club.
On a second glorious morning at the West Course, Rose looked to be wilting after his spectacular opening 66 but three consecutive birdies to finish transformed his round into a two under par 70 and took him to eight under par 136.
That left him one clear of Wentworth’s Ross Fisher, who staged his own grandstand finish by playing the last three holes in a birdie-eagle-birdie flurry for a five under par 67.
Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez and Padraig Harrington of Harrington lie a further stroke back on six under par, Harrington keeping his hopes of an Irish Open and BMW PGA Championship double, and subsequent €1 million bonus, very much alive with a second 69. Jiménez carded a 68 as he looks to better his third placed finish last year.
England’s Paul Casey, with a 67, also made huge strides to get to four under par.
After 12 holes of his first round, having just run up a nine on the par five 12th, Casey was floundering at four over par. However, The 2006 European Tour Golfer of the Year bounced back by shooting eight under par for the next 24 holes to move to four under and alongside fellow Englishman Nick Dougherty (71).
But on a leaderboard heavily weighted towards the home contingent, Rose continues to set the pace.
“The finish turned the day from a bad day into a good day,” he said. “That was a great way to finish and salvage the day.
“It’s a great start, and it’s nice to be in the hunt going into the weekend. It’s about jostling for position and trying to stay with the lead or as close to it as possible.”
For Harrington, it's also about a €1 million bonus in addition to the €725,000 first prize and a wonderful eagle at the 17th, when he hit his hybrid approach to six feet of the pin and rolled in the putt, kept that huge windfall in his sights.
"Generally I wouldn't have any inclination of how much money we are playing for on a given week, because you do not want to be focusing on it too much thinking what a certain putt might be worth if you miss it. But this week there is a side bonus and I am very conscious of it. It's actually providing me with entertainment, but I am not going to let it hang over me and distract me."
Fisher, who led with five holes left of the Dubai Desert Classic in February, showed once again that he has the mental strength to cope with the highs and the lows of the game. The 26 year old Englishman started his second round with a double bogey six but responded immediately by picking up a shot at the par three second.
Further birdies followed at the fourth, seventh, eighth and 12th holes, either side of a bogey at the tenth, before his spectacular birdie-eagle-birdie finish.
"I guess I'm just very level-headed, very easy-going. I just enjoy playing golf and I'm a confident type of guy on the golf course," explained Fisher.
"I feel really good in myself and with my game at the moment. To hear your coach say, 'You know, you're absolutely perfect. Your divots are perfect. You're flushing it', gives you so much confidence. And obviously the last two days have shown it and I'm not just here to make up the numbers and represent Wentworth Club. I'm here to win the tournament, which I firmly believe I can do."
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