Manassero and Quiros catch Donald in lead after 36 holes at BMW PGA

matteo manassero
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Matteo Manassero negotiated a precarious stance on the final hole at Wentworth Friday as he moved into a share of the lead.
Mark Garrod
PA Sport


Published: Friday, May 27, 2011 | 2:26 p.m.

Luke Donald missed the chance to turn the BMW PGA Championship into a one-man show on Friday.

Two clear after a dazzling opening round of 64, England's world No. 2 managed to add only a 1-over-par 72 and now finds himself in a three-way tie at halfway in the biggest event on the European Tour calendar aside from the British Open.


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Alongside him on the 6-under mark of 136 are 18-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero and big-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros, while world No. 1 Lee Westwood is far from out of it after a 69 lifted him to 1 under.

"I didn't quite have the same control and I didn't expect to come out and play the same as I did yesterday," said Donald. "It's very hard to replicate that and it was definitely tougher out there, but it was slightly disappointing that I didn't take advantage of some of the opportunities I had."

The 33-year-old, now effectively in a head-to-head tussle with Westwood for the top spot in the rankings with Martin Kaymer down at 3 over, was not about to blame his demise on the new-look West Course at Wentworth, though.

While Ian Poulter and Paul Casey both slammed the changes made two years ago -- Poulter spoke out after going into the new stream at the last and taking 7 -- Donald stayed calm.

"They've made it very challenging, but as long as you come into the tournament with that mindset then you shouldn't have any grumbles," he said.

He also sees it as useful preparation for the coming U.S. Open, but he was not without any criticism.

"There are a couple of holes where I think some softening could help,” he said. “I looked at the pin position for 15 tomorrow -- looks like it's 2 1/2 paces from the right.

"I mean, it's a 500-yard par 4 with a huge bunker in front,” he explained. “You miss three yards right, you're off a slope and you play to the middle of the green you've probably got a 40-foot putt at best."

A "fuming" Ian Poulter is by no means certain to return next year after another painful experience in the European Tour's flagship event. His hopes of following his Volvo World Match Play victory last Sunday with the BMW PGA Championship title nosedived when he finished his second round on Friday with a double bogey.

But it was not just the 539-yard 18th and its controversial new stream in front of the green that led the Ryder Cup star to giving vent to his feelings after his pitch to the par-5 last spun into the hazard and he then failed to get up and down.

"I don't have a problem with tough golf courses and level par (his halfway total after a 74) is hanging in there,” he said. "But I'm walking off the golf course and I'm absolutely headless. Absolutely fuming. It's not fun golf. You're watching, you tell me. Is it fun?"

Poulter stayed away in 2008 and 2009 because of his poor record and the state of the West Course greens, but millions were then spent on improving the conditions and toughening it up.

"I've loved this golf course from a kid. You could be five shots back and had a chance, but you can't finish eagle-eagle (now),” he explained. "That's the redesign. They got what they want."

Twenty minutes later, Korean Noh Seung-yul had an 11 on the same hole, while two groups ahead of Poulter, his 2008 Ryder Cup partner Justin Rose ran up a quadruple-bogey 9 on the 17th.

That did not even involve going out of bounds. He drove right into a bush, had to go back to the tee because he thought it was his best option, clipped a tree with his next drive and once down near the new-look green thinned one chip and duffed another.

"I used to really enjoy playing this golf course and now it's a grind,” said Paul Casey, who is 1 over after a 71. "I think Richard Csring (the billionaire owner), from what I've heard, was perhaps wanting something like level par to win. Well he might get that, but does that make it entertaining?

"One of the beautiful things about Wentworth (he too attended as a child) is always the great finish and the fact that guys could finish with maybe four 3s (two birdies, two eagles) and shoot up that leaderboard,” Casey added. "It's very, very difficult now."

Ernie Els, the man called in by Wentworth to make the changes, responded to the comments by saying: "Wentworth is now a fair and honest test of golf. I can understand people saying things in the heat of the moment. A guy comes off the 18th when he's just made double and he's going to be hot.

"What they say two minutes after finishing might not be indicative of what they think two hours later,” Els added. “Players who do not have a good time on the 18th will have a go. But you have to look at the overall picture. I believe you will not find better surfaces to putt on anywhere in the world at the moment, but unfortunately you only hear the negative comments and very little positive.

"It's two weeks before the U.S. Open, it's the Tour's flagship event and should be played on a major championship-style layout,” he added. "This course is by no means unfair. It was last year, but it is not this. It is a true test of the game."