European Tour Release – 25 May 2018: Lucas Bjerregaard carded a flawless seven under par 65 to take the lead after the opening round of the BMW PGA Championship – the first Rolex Series event of the European Tour’s 2018 Race to Dubai – as Rory McIlroy marked his return to Wentworth Club with an impressive 67.
Dane Bjerregaard entered the week on the back of a strong run of form, with back-to-back top tens in his last two appearances, and he carried that momentum into the opening round on the pristine West Course.
A birdie at the par three second hole got him up and running before picking up three more shots for a front nine 31, and three more gains on the way home – including a closing birdie at the par five finishing hole – handed the London-based 26 year old a one-stroke lead.
“I’ve not had much success around this place but I played lovely today. I hit it pretty well off the tee, hit a couple of loose shots in the end but managed to get up-and-down a couple of times,” said Bjerregaard.
“All in all, I didn’t do much wrong. Maybe had a little bit of a lucky break on 18 there but it’s nice to finish up with a four. It’s quite important to hit it straight, and I felt like I did that. I put myself in a lot of good spots and left myself with a few short irons and took advantage of that.
“There’s a long way to go. I’m just pleased that my form from the last few weeks seems to continue and hopefully I can keep doing some of the same stuff the rest of the week.”
Tied for second place were South African duo Dean Burmester and Darren Fichardt, who have six European Tour titles between them, after a pair of 66s.
All eyes were on four-time Major Champion Rory McIlroy, however, who was returning to Wentworth for the first time since 2015 after being forced to withdraw through injury last year, and he delighted the huge crowds with an impressive five under par 67 to move to within two strokes of the lead.
The 2014 BMW PGA Champion from Northern Ireland carded seven birdies and was disappointed to have missed a short birdie putt at the final hole, but the fans will no doubt be out in force on Friday morning in support of the former World Number One.
McIlroy was joined in a share of fourth position by Englishmen Richard Bland, Sam Horsfield and Matthew Fitzpatrick, playing his first event of the year on European soil and targeting a fifth European Tour victory in four seasons.
“It was good to see golf like that. It was good to see the shots that I hit, and the drives that I hit, I put it in play a lot more. I still hit a couple of loose shots out there but I guess you can’t expect perfection all the time. You have to sort of take it as it is. I played a lot better today than I have done the last couple of weeks, so it’s a good step in the right direction,” said McIlroy.
“My wedge play was really good and that’s something I’ve tried to work on continuously over the course of the last 12 months, trying to get that better. Any time I had a wedge in my hand today, I felt I had a realistic chance for birdie afterwards. If I can keep doing that and if I can keep putting it in the fairway like I have been, that’s really positive signs going forward.
“Obviously there’s the next three days to worry about, but I’ve got a few big tournaments coming up in the States, and then a very busy summer with a lot of important stuff coming up. So if I can keep playing like this, it should hopefully be a good summer.”
The 2017 BMW PGA Champion Alex Noren as a birdie four at the last rounded off a three under 69 which kept him in the hunt to become the first player to win the prestigious title in back-to-back seasons since Luke Donald won it for a second successive time in 2012.
65 L Bjerregaard (Den) ,
66 D Fichardt (RSA) , D Burmester (RSA) ,
67 R McIlroy (Nir) , M Fitzpatrick (Eng) , S Horsfield (Eng) , R Bland (Eng) ,