Masters champion Danny Willett experienced a mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous as he claimed a share of the lead with a remarkable 68 in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Following on from a flawless 66 in his first round in England since winning his maiden major title at Augusta, the Sheffield golfer raced to the turn in a tournament-record of 29 thanks to six birdies in seven holes from the third.
At that stage the world No 9 enjoyed a five-shot lead and was on course to break the 36-hole scoring record of 13 under par, but dropped his first shot of the week on the 10th and also bogeyed the 15th, 16th and 17th to come home in 39.
The 28-year-old’s 10-under-par total of 134 was later matched by first-round joint leaders Scott Hend and YE Yang, with South Africa’s Jaco van Zyl a shot behind in fourth.
Willett’s group was put on the clock for slow play on the back nine and he also had a lucky escape on the 17th when his sunglasses almost fell on his ball in the rough. If they had caused the ball to move, he would have received a one-shot penalty.
“I played great most of the day and then chucked a couple of horrid shots in there,” Willett said. “I had a slow walk from 17 to 18 to try and gather my thoughts and after hitting two lovely shots into the last I came off with a slightly better taste in my mouth.
“You could have just chucked it and finished really poorly, but to make birdie on the last was good and shows a little bit of mental strength. It was still not quite the back nine I was hoping for but 10 under par, you’d have taken it at the beginning of the day.”
Willett struggled to recall exactly when his group, which included South Korea’s Soomin Lee and France’s Victor Dubuisson, were put on the clock, adding: “The back nine all mingled into a pile of ****.
“It doesn’t help when you get swirling winds round here because it’s a tricky golf course.
“You’d like as much time as possible to double-check your numbers and make sure you’re happy with what you’ve got,” he added.
“Nobody wants a six-hour round, but if someone is shooting a few over par in the group, they are going to take more shots which takes up more time.”