• BMW PGA Championship, Round Two

Donald on prowl as wayward McIlroy crumbles

ESPN staff
May 25, 2012
Luke Donald moved himself into contention at Wentworth © Getty Images

BMW PGA Championship leaderboard

The world No. 1 ranking could be set to change hands yet again on Monday, after Luke Donald put himself firmly in contention at the BMW PGA Championship on Friday as Rory McIlroy missed the cut by eight shots.

McIlroy, the current top-ranked player in the world, had a shocking day after being uncharacteristically off-colour on Thursday - eventually signing for an abject round of 79 that gave him no chance of making the half-way cut.

Donald, meanwhile, took advantage of better scoring conditions in the morning to card his second successive round of 68 to move to eight-under in the defence of his title at Wentworth.

The Englishman will reclaim the world No. 1 spot - which has swapped between the pair five times already this year - if he finishes inside the top eight come Sunday, although he will certainly be targeting the win.

He did not make the best start with a bogey on one, but stormed back with birdies on two, four and five. A bogey on 11 set him back, but the Brit responded in magnificent style with an eagle on 12. Unlike 24 hours previous, Donald found the fairway on the par five, fired an approach to 15 feet and stroked in a swinging right-to-left putt.

Donald is one of the finest greenside bunker players in the game and he demonstrated his talent with a superb sand save on 13. He made another mistake on 14 but again got up and down from a devilish position to make par. A third wayward approach on the trot eventually saw Donald hand a shot back as he failed to roll in a 20-foot par putt.

Coming off the back of the bogey, Donald produced the response of a champion with an exquisite wedge to four feet for a birdie.

"Obviously I'm very pleased with that round," he said afterwards. "This is a tricky course, and the scores are reasonably good.

"I'm feeling very strong on the greens. I feel like something that has been not as consistent for me over the last couple of months, but felt very comfortable on the greens the last two days."

Donald - who shares second place with David Drysdale (70) - is nevertheless four adrift of James Morrison who stormed up the leaderboard with a fabulous round of 64. Morrison served up six birdies and an eagle on 18 to move to 12-under and set the bar high.

"It was fantastic," Morrison told Sky Sports. "I am local to here; it is a special event. The last two years I have played dreadful but I have changed the routine. My putter is back. I am normally a slow starter and my putting has been average, but it is getting better."

Looking ahead to the weekend, Morrison said: "I will just have to stick to my routine. It won't be easy but we will take it how it comes and see how it goes."

McIlroy will not have to worry about his weekend play, however, with a long session on the range likely to be in order.

The Northern Irishman ended with seven bogeys and two double-bogeys in a round where he continually found trouble off the tee, a run of poor scoring that saw him sign for a round of 79 and left him 137th in the 150-man field.

He was not the only high profile player to miss the cut, however, with Graeme McDowell, Martin Laird, Nicolas Colsaerts and two-time winner Anders Hansen (after an eight at the 18th) all out of contention at the Surrey event.

Lee Westwood holed a crucial five-footer at the same hole to ensure he will play on Saturday and Sunday; although at one-over after a round of 75 he will need to go low in his third round if he is to have any chance of improving on last year's play-off defeat.

At the business end of the leaderboard, Peter Lawrie and Alvaro Quiros are both just a shot behind Donald, with Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Branden Grace, Francesco Molinari and Justin Rose among a number of high-profile names at six-under.

World No. 11 Martin Kaymer and world No. 16 Charl Schwartzel are four-under for the tournament, while course designer and local resident Ernie Els still has a chance of forcing his way into a popular challenge for the title, as he sits three-under through 36 holes.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.