McIlroy posts 71 to stay close at BMW PGA

Rory McIlroy posted a 1-under 71 on Friday at the BMW PGA Championship.

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Rory McIlroy is enjoying the sanctuary inside the ropes provides from his personal life. So much so that he remains in contention to win the €4.75 million BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour’s flagship tournament.

McIlroy is now 5 under through 36 holes after calling off his engagement to Caroline Wozniacki. To put it in context, McIlroy missed the cut in this tournament the last two years when he was dating Wozniacki.

There’s obviously much to be said for single life.

The Northern Irishman didn’t quite match the heroics of his opening 68. He returned a 1-under 71 to get within three shots of the lead early in the second round. However, he also threw in another eagle, his third of the week, making a three at the par-5 12th hole after hitting a 7-iron approach to 10 feet.

He might not have scored as well as in Round 1, but he felt much more relaxed after the upheaval he experienced on Wednesday when he publicly revealed he’d called off his engagement.

“Yesterday was a little tougher than today,” he admitted. “I was apprehensive going out yesterday. I didn’t know what was going to happen. At least going out today, I knew what to expect. I had the quick turnaround from last night to this morning just to get straight back out on the golf course. That was a good thing.”

McIlroy’s record in this event is very poor for a player of his class. He did finish fifth in 2009, but he has three missed cuts and hasn’t finished higher than 24th in his other two starts. He was 14 over for his last four rounds before this week.

Needless to say, he didn’t expect to perform well even before his personal life became a media storm.

“I’ve exceeded them,” he said when asked about his expectations. “I honestly didn’t know what to expect, didn’t know what was going to happen and didn’t know how I was going to feel. So to be here for the weekend and to be in with a chance is good.”

The Northern Irishman has never been a fan of Wentworth’s West Course, especially since Ernie Els revamped the course in 2010. He probably still isn’t a big fan, but getting inside the ropes this week has provided an escape from the madding world that goes with a celebrity breakup.

“Once you get inside the ropes, you’re concentrating on your golf,” he said. “It’s almost like a nice four or five hours. It’s like a release in some way just to get everything out of your head apart from just doing the job at hand.

“It’s the hours in the day when you’re away from it (the golf course) that are probably a little more difficult.”

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