VIRGINIA WATER, England – Danny Willett made six birdies in a tournament-record 29 on the front nine at the BMW PGA Championship on Friday, setting up a 4-under 68 that gave the Masters champion a three-way share of the second-round lead.
Australia's Scott Hend eagled the last for a 69 to tie Willett and former U.S. PGA champion Y.E. Yang (69) for the lead on 10-under 134 in the European Tour's flagship event at Wentworth.
Willett's approach shots were so precise that his successful birdie putts on Nos. 3-9 were from no more than 15 feet. The Englishman, who was among the morning starters, reached the turn holding a five-shot lead on 12 under but bogeyed four holes in the back nine - including Nos. 15-17 - with birdies on the 14th and 18th holes.
''It was still not quite the back nine I was hoping for. But 10 under par, you'd have taken it at the beginning of the day.''
Playing his second event since winning at Augusta National, Willett hit form after making a 12-foot birdie putt on No.3. He tapped in for birdie on No. 4, almost holed his approach for eagle on No. 6 and sent his second shot on No. 8 to within three feet. Willett, the only player from the world's top 20 in the field, then birdied No. 9 and was threatening to run away with the tournament, with conditions prime for low scoring for the second straight day.
In the end, he needed a birdie on No. 18 to be in a share of the lead going into the weekend.
''Golf, isn't it?'' Willett said. ''Two tales - played good, then a couple of silly shots on the back nine ... But 68, but you've got to look at the full number, 68 is a good score out there.''