Friday, May 25, 2012


James Morrison took full advantage of easier morning conditions at sun-drenched Wentworth Club to race into a four-shot halfway lead at the BMW PGA Championship.
Before the wind got up, World No 236 Morrison, who switched to golf after playing for the England youth cricket team alongside current Test stars Alastair Cook and Tim Bresnan, added a sparkling 64 to his opening 68.
At 12 under par the 27 year old, who eagled the last from 25 feet,  moved four clear of World No 2 Luke Donald, who won the title at only six under last year, and David Drysdale from Dunbar.

Donald now needs only a top eight finish to regain the World No 1 spo in what would be the sixth change at the top in under three months.
That is because current incumbent Rory McIlroy dropped nine shots in eight holes from the eighth en route to a 79 and a second successive missed cut.
One under par and inside the cut mark after seven holes, the 23-year-old from Holywood near Belfast double bogeyed the next and then had five bogeys in a row.
A par at the short 14th was almost a cause for celebration - he had to get up and down from sand for that - but when he double-bogeyed the next after another bad drive only five players in the 150-strong field were below him.
It needed a two-putt birdie at the par five last for him to break 80.
At the recent Players Championship in Florida McIlroy shot 72 and 76 and missed the cut by four. He was double that amount away from the qualifying mark as he headed away this time.
"I watched this even before I played golf and it's fantastic - even more so because I'm local," said Morrison, whose wife is expecting their first child in two weeks.
"I played dreadfully here the last two years because I took it so seriously, but I played lovely today. My putter is back, that's the main thing."
Irishman Peter Lawrie, joint overnight leader with Drysdale, added a 71 to stand seven under.
Donald said: "I'm pleased - to be honest, I didn't have total control of the ball, but I'm rolling it well on the greens and that's always a good sign for me."
Just over 24,000 spectators, the second highest Friday attendance following record crowds the previous day, gathered on Wentworth's West Course to witness the action first hand on another glorious day in Surrey.
Morrison had earlier blown away the field by following six birdies with a 25 foot eagle putt on the 539 yard last.
His story is a remarkable one. The 27 year old did not take up golf until he was 16, but went from 18-handicap to scratch in ten months.
That prompted him to give up cricket, despite his final game for Surrey Under-17s being an innings of 114 not out.
"I haven't really looked back," he said.
"Playing golf is better than standing in the field all day."
The money is better too. He has already won over €1,000,000 with his maiden European Tour title coming at the Madeira Islands Open in 2010 - and first prize this weekend is €750,000.
As for what he faces over the closing 36 holes, Morrison, who was joint leader with a round to go in the Alstom Open de France last summer and went in the water on the first two holes, is not getting ahead of himself.
"I expect a lot, but whether I shoot 80 or 65 I'll take what I can from it," he said.
"I desperately, desperately, desperately want to keep going forward and that's my problem sometimes - I'm too eager, too keen, too determined I guess.
"I've been playing great, but been getting in the way of myself. I'm going to do my best and that's all I can do."
Donald is still well in contention for the title, however, after his second successive 68.
World No 3 Lee Westwood, out of bounds with his drive as he followed bogeys on the 15th and 16th with a double bogey 7 at the next, was in severe danger of missing the cut at that point.
But he got up and down from sand on the last for a birdie, a 75 and a one over total that he knew was likely to be just good enough to survive to the weekend.

Among the list of big names who missed the cut, apart from McIlroy, was his Ulsterman colleague Graeme McDowell, double Open champion Padraig Harrington, Rookie of the Year Tom Lewis, Martin Laird and Richie Ramsay who went from 69 to 79 and out with 148.
Paul Lawrie is just inside the top 20, following up a 69 with a steady 71 for 140 which makes him the second best Scot behind Drysdale.
The mercurial Marc Warren followed up his opening 68 with a 76 for 144 to be the fifth best Scot after Drysdale, Lawrie, Scott Jamieson (75 for 143) and Colin Montgomerie (74 for 143)



Par 144 (2x72)
132 James Morrison (England) 68 64
136 David Drysdale (Scotland) 66 70, Luke Donald (England) 68 68
137 Peter Lawrie (Ireland) 66 71, Alvaro Quiros (Portugal) 67 70
138 Marcel Siem (Germany) 71 67, Rafa Cabrera-Bello (Spain) 68 70, Branden Grace (South Africa) 69 69, Francesco Molinari (Italy) 68 70, Justin Rose (England) 67 71, Peter Hedblom (Sweden) 68 70, Fredrick Andersson Hed (Sweden) 70 68, Ricardo Gonzalez (Argentina) 71 67.
139 Edoarado Molinari (Italy) 69 70, Richard Sterne (South Africa) 71 68, Pablo Martin (Spain) 69 70.

Players from Scotland unless stated
140 Paul Lawrie 69 71 (T17)
141 Ernie Els (South Africa) 68 73 (T25)
143 Colin Montgomerie 69 74, Scott Jamieson 68 75 (T37)
144 Marc Warren 68 76 (T45)

MISSED THE CUT (145) or better to qualify
147 Peter Whiteford 77 70, Graeme McDowell (Northern Ireland) 74 73, Greig Hutcheon 73 74.
148 Darren Clarke (Northern Ireland) 71 77, Tom Lewis (England) 70 78, Richie Ramsay 69 79, Martin Laird 73 75.
151 Retief Goosen (South Africa) 73 78.
152 Stephen Gallacher 72 80.
153 Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland) 74 79.
154 George Murray 72 82.
155 Padraig Harrington (Ireland) 76 79, Scott Drummond 77 77
156 David Patrick 77 79.



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