VIRGINIA WATER, England -- Leaders Peter Lawrie and David Drysdale each shot 6-under 66s Thursday at the BMW PGA Championship, leaving a frustrated top-ranked Rory McIlroy and his high-ranking rivals trailing after the first round.
|European PGA Championship|
McIlroy had five bogeys and a double bogey in his round of 74 to go with three birdies and an eagle. On the par-5, 12th he hurled his club after a poor provisional shot, which came after he sent his second shot out of bounds en route to a bogey 6.
"It's pretty disappointing," said McIlroy, whose No. 1 ranking is under threat from Luke Donald this week. "I feel like I'm playing well, I just need to go out there and shoot a score."
Lawrie had four birdies and an eagle in an error-free round and the 291st-ranked Drysdale had seven birdies and a bogey in good weather at Wentworth.
Jamie Donaldson and Justin Rose had 67s, while second-ranked Donald joined a group that also included Ernie Els two shots back after a 68.
McIlroy could be fined should his actions be deemed against the European Tour's guidelines on course etiquette.
"I have not yet had the chance to view the incident but I will be requesting a tape and if any breach ... is found, then appropriate action will be taken in due course," tournament director David Garland said.
McIlroy said his club-throwing outburst on the 12th, one of four par 5s on the course, was simply a release of frustration.
"You think about the par 5s and you should be taking advantage there," he said. "Standing on the first tee, 3 or 4 under is the worst you should be shooting."
The par 5s weren't the problem - he eagled No. 4 and birdied No. 17. Putting that let him down, especially around the turn where he dropped four shots in five holes, culminating in the error-ridden showing on No. 12.
"I struggled with the pace of the greens," said McIlroy, who has had to adjust to the slowness of the putting surfaces after being based in the United States.
His missed cut at The Players Championship two weeks ago was the first time he failed to make the weekend in 23 tournaments.
His consistent run helped him to the top of the rankings for the first time in March thanks to a win at the Honda Classic and again in April. On both occasions, he replaced Donald.
However, at the BMW PGA Championship, he has only one top-10 finish in four previous tournaments.
Third-ranked Lee Westwood shot a 70 to sit two strokes off the pace while playing partner Graeme McDowell ended up with a 74 after an unfortunate 8 on the par-5 last.
The 2010 U.S. Open champion was on course to break par in his opening round at Wentworth when he approached the ball after hitting his drive into the bushes to the right of the fairway.
The ball, which was lying on a bed of branches, moved slightly -- costing him a shot -- and because he didn't replace it, he was handed another penalty stroke by the European Tour referee.
The triple-bogey 8 wrecked his round.
"The rules of golf are very precise and in-depth -- it's impossible to know every idiosyncrasy of them," McDowell said.
McDowell said the area in the vicinity of the ball "felt like it was bouncing" as he walked up to see what shot he had.
"I've gone ahead and chipped it out and made a 6 but TV footage showed the ball rotated a couple of dimples. Because I didn't attempt to replace it, even though I was unsure it had moved, I was supposed to," he said.
"Just one of those things -- the TV cameras were there, we got it in slow-mo, hi-definition. There's no arguing."
Experienced players like Westwood, who was in the same threesome as McDowell, and Els were also left dumbfounded.
"These rules are funny," Els said. "I've been a professional since 1989 and I should know the rules better than any of these youngsters and I still ask for a ruling for the simplest things."
Westwood added: "I've never heard of that one. I have sympathy for him."
McDowell said players were becoming "scared" because the rules were so intricate.
"Looking back, I'm not sure what I could have done," he added. "The ball was perched until I got 10 feet from it and at that point it was too late. It's one of those freak scenarios in golf."