PGA Championship: NI trio struggle in Wentworth first round

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell

Northern Ireland trio Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke all posted disappointing opening rounds of two-over-par 74 at the PGA Championship at Wentworth to lie eight off the lead.

McIlroy began his round brightly and lay three under after 12 holes but five bogeys in his final six holes saw him drop down the leaderboard.

McDowell carded a birdie and a bogey but ended with a double bogey at 18.

Clarke recorded three birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey at the 16th.

"I played the first 12 holes really well and I could have been even better off than three under," said world number two McIlroy.

"A couple of poor drives cost me dearly and then I tried to salvage something at the 18th after a good tee shot, but didn't manage it.

"The thing that gets me is the cold and I was wearing mittens all day.

"Your body just doesn't feel the way it usually does and we are so used to playing in warm conditions these days. This is a little bit of a change.

"It was definitely a round that got away from me, but I can take some positives."

McIlroy's playing partner and compatriot McDowell looked well placed to start with a level-par round but then found the water at the final hole.

South African James Kingston leads the tournament on six under, with Finn Mikko Ilonen five under and Scotland's Scott Henry and Spaniard Gonzalo Fdez-Castano tied for third on four under.

Shane Lowry is best placed of the Irish contingent on two under, while Paul McGinley will be pleased with his one-under 71.

Michael Hoey lies one over while Gareth Maybin is four over and has ground to make up if he wants to make the halfway cut.

Thursday's play was delayed for an hour and a half because of thunder and lightning, so a number of players must complete their opening rounds on Friday night.

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