It may have the reputation for being unlucky but there was nothing remotely fearful about the figure 13 for Paul McGinley at Wentworth Club on a day which saw records tumble across the West Course. The Irishman carded a superb 66 for a 13 under par total of 131 to take a four shot lead into the third round of the BMW PGA Championship.
McGinley’s halfway aggregate set a new record low total for the first 36 holes of the tournament, beating the 12 under par 132 score set jointly by Ernie Els in 1994, Colin Montgomerie in 2000 and Andrew Oldcorn in 2001.
It gave the 41 year old Dubliner a healthy advantage to take into the weekend of the flagship event on The European Tour International Schedule, his nearest challengers being Sweden’s Robert Karlsson and Miles Tunnicliff of England who carded respective rounds of 69 and 65 for a nine under par total of 135.
Amazingly, McGinley was not the only man to rewrite the record books on a fantastic Friday. Playing in the last group of the day, England’s Robert Dinwiddie brought the curtain down on the action in style, smashing the existing course record 65 by two shots with a stunning 63 which saw him move from 129th place to 20th.
After his opening 78, the 25 year old Challenge Tour graduate of 2007 could have been forgiven for fearing at an early exit from the tournament but nothing could have been further from the truth after a sensational effort which featured ten birdies in total, including five in a row from the 14th to finish.
“I was hoping to shoot four or five under just to try and make the cut, but to shoot nine under par here is fantastic and it is right up there with my best ever rounds,” he said. “To hold the course record at Wentworth Club is very special.
“Obviously I am very happy, especially with the fact that my whole family were out there.My dad was there, my gran was there, even my cousin and uncle were there too, it was a great to have them watch me do that.”
However, at the top of the leaderboard, the day was all about McGinley, who rounded off his own special day with an eagle three on the 538 yard 18th, holing from 20 feet after his three iron second shot had arrowed the centre of the green.
It ended a memorable couple of days for the Irishman who, the night before, had celebrated as his beloved Celtic lifted the Scottish Premier League title. Yet, despite his comprehensive lead, McGinley remained cautious about his chances of becoming the first Irishman to win the BMW PGA Championship in 50 years.
“Things are looking good but I'm long enough in the game to realise there's two long days ahead of me,” he said. “When you go out in front early in the tournament like I did yesterday and lead the tournament, it's a long week. Everybody will tell you that but I'm prepared for a long week. It's a marathon and we’re only still only halfway through.”
Leading the chase, Tunnicliff shrugged off injury woes to surge up the leaderboard to alongside Karlsson.
The two time European Tour winner could not even pick up a club early in the week after injuring his right arm at the weekend but after some intensive treatment in The European Tour’s Physio Unit, including some acupuncture, he produced a masterful display including an eagle two on the seventh hole, where he holed his nine iron second shot.
Karlsson, meanwhile, continued his fine recent form. The Swede, who had birdied the fourth and eight holes, recovered immediately from a dropped shot on the 15th to end with three birdies in a row.
One shot further behind on eight under par 136, in a share of fourth place, were Australia’s Marcus Fraser, Denmark’s Søren Kjeldsen and Oliver Wilson of England, while Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez stood seventh after his 67 for 137.
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