Rory McIlroy stepped up his bid to win the BMW PGA Championship after paying his respects to Queen Elizabeth II in a poignant scene in Wentworth on Saturday.
McIlroy joined DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, fellow players and caddies on the green off the first tee for a moving two-minute silence before play began.
Billy Horschel, the reigning champion of the tournament, visited nearby Windsor Castle to pay his respects and Australian player Min Woo Lee did the same at Buckingham Palace after the tournament was shut down on Friday following Queen’s death on Thursday.
As play resumed on Saturday in a shortened 54-hole event, McIlroy saluted the Queen, who was the country’s long-serving monarch when she died at the age of 96.
“I think when they grew up in Northern Ireland, the Royal Family was part of our culture and you just took it for granted that the Queen is the Queen,” said McIlroy, who met the monarch when he received his MBE in 2012. got.
“You don’t realize there will be kings and queens after that. She was such a stable figure for the whole country.
“I’ve been very lucky. I met her a few years ago and she couldn’t have been nicer. I have the picture of that in my house next to my MBE, which I’m also very proud of.
“I thought it was the right decision for us to continue. I don’t think we disdain anyone by playing and celebrating what a life the Queen had.”
McIlroy started his second round with eight shots ahead, but gradually gained ground with an eagle on fourth and a birdie on eighth that knocked him out in 32.
Another birdie on the 18th saw McIlroy equal his lowest score ever at Wentworth, a 65 that left him behind Thomas Detry and Rafa Cabrera Bello and behind Viktor Hovland and Soren Kjeldsen.
Kjeldsen had set the early goal thanks to an excellent 64, the 47-year-old Dane dropping a shot at the first but reacting with an eagle and seven birdies.
Of observing the period of silence before the game, Kjeldsen said: “As a foreigner, but living here I had some idea of how much the Queen meant to the British public.
“But it was quite overwhelming and I was surprised by how much she was loved. It was a very special moment.”