Willett turns tables on Walker Cup team mate McIlroy
England`s Danny Willett turned the tables on his former Walker Cup team mate Rory McIlroy by shooting a first round six-under-par 65 to lead the European PGA Championship.
Wentworth: England`s Danny Willett turned the tables on his former Walker Cup team mate Rory McIlroy by shooting a first round six-under-par 65 to lead the European PGA Championship.
Australia`s Richard Green was in second, after a 66, his best start in 14 attempts at the tournament, with England`s Ross Fisher one of four players on four-under.
World number three Lee Westwood and defending champion Paul Casey are both five shots back, with 70s, but Ian Poulter is struggling to make the cut after a 78.
McIlroy and Willett were colleagues in the Great Britain and Ireland side that narrowly lost to the United States in 2007, before turning professional.
Willett has looked on as McIlroy has won on both the European and PGA Tours and risen to ninth in the world rankings as the Yorkshireman languishes at 128th.
But a round of nine birdies and three bogeys was enough to give Willett bragging rights over the Irishman - who was round in 74 - although he admitted he has watched McIlroy`s career with a tinge of envy.
Willett, 22 and a former English amateur champion, said: "I`d be lying if I said I didn`t.”
"It took Rory probably a year and a bit to get his first win. Obviously I have been out here a bit longer now, I just need to concentrate on what I am doing and press on to try to get into the world top 100, top 50 and hopefully the opportunities will come up for me.”
"I have changed my attitude a bit. It would be good to win but it is not a necessity this year. It will come soon if I keep playing good golf.”
"In the amateur game you can have one bad round and you won`t really drop back. Out here it is bunched every week and there is so much going on you have to be on top of your game for four rounds if you are going to have a chance of winning on Sunday."
McIlroy, who described Willett as "confident, bouncy and a good lad", was five over par after 10 holes but birdies at the 16th and 17th gave him a chance of making the halfway cut.
He said: "I wasn`t comfortable with my swing on the front nine but I played a lot better on the back nine and started hitting some good shots towards the end.”
"Five over par after 10 was not great but I hung in there and gave myself chances coming in. I just need to try and do that tomorrow and hole a few putts to get me there for the weekend."
Green tamed the controversial 18th, hitting his second shot over the new brook and onto the green, to about 15 feet from the hole, only to miss his eagle putt.