Rory McIlroy birdied the last to be almost sure of making the cut at the BMW PGA Championship on Friday, but then declared that he had survived “a s—show”.
An 80-minute fog delay at Wentworth in the morning saw the field scrambling to finish their second rounds and as the light faded, McIlroy, the world No 2, was involved in the logjam on the 18th tee.
By then, there were four groups waiting on the tee, with the green predominantly illuminated by the light from a giant scoreboard.
When it came to his turn, Mcllroy hit the par-five green with his second and two-putted 45 feet for birdie to finish on the projected cut mark of one-under. He will have to wait until the second round is completed on Saturday morning to learn his fate, but appears all but guaranteed to play the final two rounds.
“It was a s—show,” McIlroy said after his 71. “The fog obviously delayed things but I’ve never remembered having that many players on 17 and 18. It’s not as if they teed us off in tighter slots or anything.
“It’s hard for me trying to play the last well and make the cut, it’s a bit of a mad dash and a scramble to get finished. I don’t know what you could do about that apart from less players in the field.”
It was a dramatic Friday, with reports of Thomas Bjorn, the 2018 Ryder Cup captain, becoming involved in a row with a drunken fan. Meanwhile, Bob MacIntyre revealed that the escalating threat of angry gamblers berating professional golfers to try to influence the scores has reached the leafy environs of Surrey.
The Scot, who makes his Ryder Cup debut in Rome in two weeks’ time, was on the penultimate hole of his second round at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth when he was heckled by a punter who had bet against him.
MacIntyre was so concerned that the spectator would try to affect his round that he asked his caddie, Greg Milne, to keep an eye on the miscreant.
“I was getting a bit of stick up the 17th… this guy told me the amount he had riding on it [the bet],’ MacIntyre said after his 69 outscored playing partners Justin Rose and Matt Fitzpatrick by two and three shots respectively. “I said to Greg walking to the 18th tee ‘be switched on as this guy could throw anything at us’.
“There’s obviously gambling going on golf nowadays and some people ride a lot of money on it – and, unfortunately, he lost today. I actually talked about that to someone a few weeks ago, it might even have been Jon [Rahm] about the heckling on the PGA Tour.”
There are huge concerns on the US circuit after sports betting was made legal in several US states. The PGA Tour has sought, in some respects, to cash in on the resulting explosion, but players such as Rahm have warned that there are obvious consequences in a sport where it is clearly so straightforward to put off a competitor.
“You’re so close; you can yell at the wrong time, and it’s very easy for that to happen,” Rahm said last month at the Tour Championship in Atlanta. “I feel like we hear it every single round. It happens way more often than you guys may hear. I mean, it’s very, very present.”
The sponsors, TV executives and Luke Donald, the Europe captain could have been forgiven for shouting out when McIlroy made that birdie on the last for a 71. However, on one-under, McIlroy is nine behind Swedish pacesetters Ludvig Aberg (66) and Sebastian Soderburg (64).
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