Mikko Ilonen (Getty Images)
Finland’s Mikko Ilonen continued his excellent recent form to take an early lead on the opening day of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club.
Second in two of his last three starts, the 33 year old turned in a three under par 32 at The European Tour’s Flagship.
After a birdie at the fourth Ilonen holed from 20 feet at the sixth and picked up another shot at the ninth.
That was one ahead of Ireland’s Shane Lowry and Scottish pair Stephen Gallacher and Scott Jamieson as the tournament began in chilly conditions.
Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley, former Open Champion Darren Clarke, US PGA Champion Rory McIlroy and World Number Four Justin Rose were part of a star-studded group on one under par.
McIlroy missed two good chances to get among the early leaders - splitting the first fairway with his drive and hitting a superb approach to 12 feet directly behind the flag on the 473 yard par four.
However, the World Number Two - still seeking his first win of the year - left his birdie putt inches short and then missed from similar distance on the par three second.
McIlroy did pick up a birdie at the third but gave it back on the fifth, only to then register another gain at the sixth.
Rose holed from 20 feet at the eighth which moved him into the group on two under, which had swelled to include Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, Scotland’s Scott Henry and Italian Matteo Manassero.