ENGLAND’S JAMES MORRISON was the early mover in the second round of the PGA Championship here at Wentworth on Friday as he surged to the top of the leaderboard after an eight-under par 64.
The 27-year old finished his round four strokes clear of defending champion Luke Donald, who shot his second successive 68 to lie second alongside David Drysdale from Scotland, one of the overnight leaders who was round in 70.
Ireland’s Peter Lawrie, who shared the overnight lead, was a shot further back on seven-under after a 71.
Morrison, the 2010 Madeira Open winner, had a near flawless round and sits at a daunting 12-under par after two rounds with half the field still to go out.
The Englishman did not have a bogey on his card, making six birdies before a grandstand finish at the par-5 18th, where he rolled in a 30-foot putt for an eagle and the second best 36-hole score in this tournament’s history.
Paul McGinley was 13-under at the same stage in 2008.
Despite his one tour win Morrison is not used to competing in tournaments of this magnitude and admitted he can see Donald out of his rear-view mirror.
“I expect a lot but at the same time you have got the likes of Donald and company behind you,” he said. “If I shoot 80 on Saturday or 65 I will take what I can from it. “I desperately, desperately want to keep going forward and that is my problem sometimes – I am too keen. I am going to be trying my hardest to win.
“This is my third year on tour and I have won but this is a different level.
“But that was one of the best rounds I have played and probably one of the easiest, or it felt easy. I wish golf was like that every day but it isn’t.”
Morrison conceivably could have been playing Test cricket for England against the West Indies in Nottingham on Friday instead of leading the European Tour’s flagship event.
He was a promising cricketer as a youth and played in the same England age-group sides as current internationals Alastair Cook, Tim Bresnan and Ravi Bopara.
He switched to golf aged 16 and within a year he was a scratch player before accepting a scholarship in the United States ahead of turning professional.
Donald got off to a bad start by dropping a shot at the first but five subsequent birdies and an eagle helped him keep Morrison in his sights.
The world number two said: “It is a great opportunity for him — any aspiring golfer would want to get into this situation and see how they deal with it.
“This is the biggest event on the European Tour. I am sure he will have some nerves and I will try and chase him down.”
“Sixty-four is impressive. There are opportunities out there and going off early is going to be a help but to shoot 64 around this course is great going.”
Elsewhere on Wentworth’s West Course Alvaro Quiros signed for a 70 and was tied, one shot behind Donald and Drysdale, on seven-under along with Lawrie and Peter Hedblom of Sweden who was still on the course.
World number one Rory McIlroy, two-over overnight, had some work to do to make the cut and got off to the worst possible start by dropping a shot at the first.
However, he got back to where he started the day with a birdie at the par-3 second.