VIRGINIA WATER, England (AP) — South Africa’s James Kingston shot a 6-under 66 on Thursday at Wentworth to take the lead during the suspended first round of the BMW PGA Championship.
Afternoon play was delayed for about 90 minutes because of the threat of lightning and five groups were still on the course when the round was suspended for the day because of darkness.
Finland’s Mikko Ilonen opened with a 67, and Scotland’s Scott Henry and Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano shot 68. Austria’s Martin Wiegele also was 4 under with five holes left.
Sergio Garcia, the Spanish player whose verbal sparring with Tiger Woods turned ugly this week when he said he would “serve fried chicken” if he had dinner with Woods, opened with a 72.
Second-ranked Rory McIlroy bogeyed five of the last six holes for a 74, and playing partner Graeme McDowell, coming off a victory Sunday in Bulgaria in the Volvo World Match Play, also had a 74.
McIlroy had 33 putts.
“I feel as though I am playing well enough, but it is just not being reflected on my scorecard,” McIlroy said. “I played the first 12 holes really not missing a shot, but I just feel at the minute I am not getting that much out of my rounds. … I’m not sure what the problem is because, as I said, the first 12 holes was really good golf and very solid, but I just got on a run of bogeys and couldn’t get off it.”
Ian Poulter finished with a 76, and two-time defending champion Luke Donald had a 78.
“It is disappointing to be this far back after one round, but then that’s just golf, again,” Donald said. “Today was quite different to how the course has played in the past, but I just didn’t do very well in adjusting.”
The 47-year-old Kingston got into the field through a sponsor invite after losing his European Tour card at the end of last season.
“I never felt like I played poorly enough to lose my card and that’s what makes it even more frustrating,” said Kingston, who won the 2009 Mercedes Benz Championship for the last his two tour titles. “I felt like I played half decent throughout the whole season, but just never managed to put a score on the board. It does make it a little harder to accept. Getting an invite into this event, what a great feeling to be back here. I think I’ve made the most of it today.”
There also was a brief hail shower.
“It was pretty nippy when we started and stayed that way,” Ilonen said. “All day I was thinking, ‘Can I get these waterproof trousers off?’ and never managed it. We even had hail on the ninth tee. I said to a friend last night it was going to snow today and she laughed at me. It’s British summer and we have proof of that.”