All quiet on the West Course front? It certainly was for Rory McIlroy who politely declined a post-mortem and gave the waiting press the silent treatment after a crippling 76 in the opening round of the BMW PGA Championship.

While Matt Wallace was making hay as the sun shone in Surrey and motored into the lead with a seven-under 65, McIlroy, who was three-under after just five holes, spluttered through the rest of his round like a misfiring jalopy.

A trio of bogeys around the turn didn’t help while a double-bogey, bogey finish at 17 and 18 was a grisly end to a debris-strewn inward half of 42.


In contrast, Wallace put in a polished display of poise and purpose as he surged to the front with a terrific card which was illuminated by three birdies and an eagle in his opening six holes as he finished one ahead of Henrik Stenson and Jon Rahm.

With four European Tour wins to his name, Londoner Wallace is desperate to add to that tally. He’s had five top-threes this year, including a third in the US PGA, but the pursuit of further glory has come at a price.

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An increasingly strained relationship with his caddie, Dave McNeilly, led to Wallace being lambasted in many quarters for his on-course behaviour with world renowned coach Pete Cowen branding him “an idiot”.

“It was the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my career,” said Wallace of this high-profile parting of ways.

“He got me to where I am today. I wanted to stay with him and get through that tough time, because I loved him. But sometimes you need to make those hard decisions to go forward.”

Stenson eagled his last hole to get to within a shot of Wallace while Rahm conjured a grandstand finish and birdied four of his last five in a barnstorming 66.

Paul Casey arrived on 18 just a shot off the lead but found the water and made a seven in a 68.