Lee Westwood is just two shots behind the group of leaders
The 44-year-old, who is now based in Edinburgh, plotted his way around a roasting Wentworth with a strategically savvy 69 to move into the slipstream of joint leaders Francesco Molinari, Thomas Pieters and Scott Jamieson at halfway.
Westwood is two shots back at five under and, after rediscovering his laser-like driving, scenting a chance to finally land English golf’s prestige tournament at the 24th time of asking.
“I’ve played well here in the past. I’ve won the World Matchplay here and had a couple of good chances to win this event and not finished it off so we’ll see what happens at the weekend,” said Westwood, whose last win was at the 2015 Indonesian Masters.
“This tournament always has the feel of a big event – even more so this week with the fantastic weather and great crowds coming out – and I’ve approached it like a Major Championship.
Justin Rose eagled the last to make the cut
“I’ve played patient and sensible golf – really big tournament golf – and aimed away from flags when I should do and not hit driver off every tee.
“But when I have I’ve certainly driven it better this week than I have done for a long, long time. I’ve driven it long and straight and you can play any golf course with that.”
Danny Willett, who made his first cut since February, found himself embroiled in a spat with Branden Grace after criticising the South African on Twitter.
Willett took exception to a free drop Grace engineered for himself from a plugged lie on the upslope of a bunker during the first round.
Grace called a referee in after complaining that his feet were touching the rubber base of the bunker.
“@EuropeanTour please explain that drop?! Burying feet enough in to get to the base of the bunker???” tweeted Willett.
Grace admitted Willett’s comments had played on his mind but was unrepentant about his actions.
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
“There is always somebody that writes something negative – it happens. It caught me a little off my guard this morning but I don’t think I did anything wrong. The rules official was there and he made the call so that is the end of the story,” said Grace.
Branden Grace admits Danny Willett's comments had played on his mind
@EuropeanTour please explain that drop?! Burying feet enough in to get to the base of the bunker???
— Danny Willett (@Danny_Willett) 25 May 2017
“The rule is there for a reason and I used it to my advantage.” Justin Rose eagled the last to make the cut while Ian Poulter will also be around for the weekend but even after a round of 69 he was still seething at the hard work he made of the West Course’s parched but perfect greens.
“The putting’s not good enough. It was absolutely shocking today. Unacceptable. It was pathetic,” said Poulter.
“The only plus is I’ll have an early tee off time tomorrow and be able to watch Arsenal beat Chelsea tomorrow.”
Rory McIlroy, who withdrew from the BMW PGA Championship with a rib injury, has also pulled out of next week’s Memorial tournament in Ohio in a bid to be fit for the US Open.