Francesco Molinari, fresh off a tied for second at the Open de Espana, opened the BMW PGA Championship with a 7-under 65 on Thursday, racking up five birdies on the back nine alone to lead the premier European Tour event by two strokes.
“I love this place and it’s good to be back. It rewards accuracy, which suits my game,” Molinari said.
He has a two-stroke lead over Robert Karlsson (5-under), with a five players tied for third at 4-under, including Marc Warren and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
No. 1 Rory McIlroy struggled early and often but finished 1-under with four birdies and three bogeys. McIlroy said his recent rush of tournaments might be affecting his mental game a bit.
“I played okay. There weren’t really any aspects of my game I thought were really good, but at the same time I don’t feel any aspect of my game was really off,” McIlroy said.