Danny Willett shot a seven-under-par round to share the halfway lead in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
The Englishman, 31, carded six birdies and an eagle to reach 11 under, the same mark as Spain’s Jon Rahm.
Justin Rose is tied for third on nine under, while Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy just made the cut, shooting three under to reach one over overall.
“I didn’t really do much the last couple of weeks and some things start to creep into your game,” said McIlroy.
The 30-year-old, who won the Fed-Ex Cup in August, added: “I’m happy to be here for the weekend. I had to battle hard out there just to be here. I’m proud of myself for hanging in.
“Plus one, obviously the leaders are way up there, but the conditions are going to be tricky.
“The course is getting firm. If I can shoot seven-under tomorrow, get myself to minus six, you never know… I went low on this golf course before, so I feel like I can do that.”
Willett continues fine form
Round two of the European Tour’s flagship event could not be fully completed because of bad light and five players will conclude their round from 0715 BST on Saturday.
Willett’s fine round was further evidence of his return to form having slipped to 462 in the rankings in 2018.
The 2016 Masters champion is now ranked at 58 and his mark of seven under on Friday was only matched by American Billy Horschel, who is seven under overall.
“I’m probably not back to my best,” said Willett, who won the DP World Tour Championship in August.
“I’m still working on the moves and there’s still shots in there that I don’t like.
“As a whole, the body is night and day to where it was and the movements are good. The ability to travel around the world and play golf now is back there and I’m just in a much better place with everything, really. Hopefully an exciting weekend to come.”
Rahm eyes legend status
England’s Tommy Fleetwood just made the cut at one over par to remain the only player in the world’s top 50 yet to miss a cut in 2019.
Rose is joined on nine under in third place by Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
Rahm, 24, looked like he too would share the mark but he converted an eagle on the last to join Willett, capping a fine recovery given he made bogey on his opening two holes.
“I didn’t lose patience or panic, because I know I have the whole round to go and I have the whole day to make it up,” said Rahm, the world number six.
“There’s a lot of history here and a lot of legends on the walls, so it would be great to join that great list of players.”
The BBC will continue to broadcast the Ryder Cup after extending its deal with the European Tour until 2022.
That means the biennial match between Europe and the United States stays free to air across TV, online and radio.
Whistling Straits in Wisconsin will host the 2020 Ryder Cup, with Italy’s Marco Simone staging the 2022 event.
“We are pleased our audiences can continue to enjoy such a special event,” said Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport.
The BBC has also retained television highlights of the BMW PGA Championship and Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open, and will now also show highlights of the European Tour season-ending DP World Tour Championship Dubai until 2022.
Rufus Hack, the European Tour’s chief content officer, said: “The Ryder Cup is one of global sport’s most-watched events and this extension to our long-term relationship with the BBC means viewers in the UK will be able to continue to follow it across the BBC.
“We’re delighted viewers can also follow three of our Rolex Series events, including our season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.”
The announcement was made on the first day of the 2019 BMW PGA Championship, which marks the start of the qualification campaign for Europe’s 2020 Ryder Cup team.
England’s Justin Rose is aiming to be fit in time to compete at this week’s BMW PGA Championship after suffering a knee injury in the build-up to the Wentworth tournament.
The world number four has been receiving treatment since jarring his knee after slipping last week.
“Unfortunately, I have had to withdraw from Wednesday’s pro-am as a precaution,” Rose said.
“But I am doing everything I can to be fit to play on Thursday.”
“I have been getting treatment on the injury and I have been working hard with [European Tour medical team member] Justin Buckthorp and my medical team away from the course in order to ensure I am able to play,” he added.
The world number 665 was set to be a vice-captain before getting a wildcard from Europe’s captain Catriona Matthew.
“It’s just a fairytale ending to what was an amazing week,” she said.
“I have to give credit to our captain Catriona Matthew. She was outstanding – calm and collected, and she had the confidence we could go out and do it on Sunday.
“I just want to thank her for the opportunity because not in my wildest dreams did I ever think that was going to happen again.”
Pettersen – at the centre of controversy over the concession of a putt in the 2015 match – took time out of the game in November 2017 to have a baby.
But after returning to competitive golf earlier this year, Matthew handed her a surprise ninth appearance in the biennial match.
She repaid her captain’s faith by completing a stirring victory over Marina Alex with a birdie at the 18th and a moment she says would be impossible to surpass.
“I never thought that I was going to be able to do this again,” Pettersen told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I’ve always said it, the Solheims have meant the world to me.
“It’s probably [given me] the biggest highlights of my career and, being a part of that on Sunday on the 18th green, nothing is ever going to top it so I might as well leave on top and say enough is enough.
“It doesn’t matter if I win another major or regular tournament – nothing is going to beat it.
“For me, it was almost like a perfect stage to say goodbye to professional golf.”
Minutes after holing the most memorable putt of her career, Pettersen announced her retirement – but says it was not a premeditated decision.
“It just came to me as I was standing there with everyone. It was not planned. I just grabbed the moment,” the two-time major champion said.
“I’m done now. I told the girls this is it, I’m not going to do it again. I don’t have the nerves for it.”
The US looked set to claim a third successive Solheim Cup when they led 13½-11½, only needing half a point from the final three matches to reach 14 points and retain the trophy.
But Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist completed a 4&3 victory and England’s Bronte Law won her match on the 17th, moments before Pettersen completed a sensational comeback victory with a birdie at the 18th.
Matthew, who played in nine Solheim Cups, had initially asked 38-year-old Norwegian Pettersen, who only returned to playing this year after taking time out in November 2017 to have a baby, to be a non-playing vice-captain.
However, despite only playing two events – missing the cut at both – since returning earlier this year, Matthew picked Pettersen, whose world ranking is 665, as one of her four wildcard selections.
When asked if she felt justified in making that call, Matthew, who received some criticism at the time, replied: “Just a little bit.”
Pettersen called it the “ultimate scenario for winning back the Solheim Cup”, referring to her Scottish captain.
“It doesn’t get any better. The home of golf, Scotland, big crowds, Beany [Matthew] being here and from just up the street.”
England’s Bronte Law, who sprinted up the 18th after winning her match to join the celebrations, said the “phenomenal” home support had been “the 13th member of the team” with 90,000 people attending the event.
“This is nothing I’ve ever experienced in my life,” said the 24-year-old from Stockport.
“They were screaming all day and it made a massive difference. You can hear them rooting for you and it makes a massive difference. It gives you that pep in your step and keeps you going when you make mistakes.
“And when I made those mistakes I just listened to the crowd, they were cheering me all the way around.”
Law also admitted: “I was trying to do the maths but I couldn’t remember whether it was 14½ points or 14 to win, so I just thought ‘win your point and the rest will be taken care of’. And Suzann took care of it.”
Europe won the last three singles matches to seal a sensational 14½-13½ Solheim Cup victory over the United States at Gleneagles.
Bronte Law, who moments earlier won her match on the 17th, sprinted up the 18th fairway to join the celebrations after wildcard pick Suzann Pettersen holed an eight-foot putt on the last to win the trophy.
“She got a bit of stick for getting that pick, but it shows she was the right one,” said Europe captain Catriona Matthew.
Norwegian Pettersen was originally selected as a vice-captain after taking time out of the game in November 2017 to have a baby. But after returning to play earlier this year, Matthew gave the 39-year-old a surprise 10th Solheim Cup appearance.
And she repaid her captain’s faith with a nerve-shredding victory on the final green.
American Marina Alex missed a 10-foot putt to halve the last and her match to earn a 14th point that would have seen the US retain the trophy.
While Pettersen sized up what she thought would be a putt to win her match to put Europe on 13½ points, Law was sealing that point back on the 17th.
That suddenly meant a Pettersen miss would see the US reach 14 points but the Norwegian held her nerve to spark wild celebrations on the green.
-18 S Garcia (Spa); -17 N Hojgaard (Den); -16 M Wallace (Eng); -15 J Morrison (Eng); -14 C Shinkwin (Eng); -12 R Karlberg (Swe)
Selected others: -10 B Dredge (Wal), M Southgate (Eng), T Pieters (Bel); -9 P Harrington (Ire), P Reed (US), L Johnston (Sco)
Sergio Garcia picked up the 16th European Tour title of his career with a one-stroke victory at the KLM Open in the Netherlands.
A final-round three-under 69 was enough for the 39-year-old to finish one clear of Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard.
The Spaniard has fallen to 43rd in the world and this was his first victory since the 2018 Andalucia Masters.
Englishman Callum Shinkwin began as joint leader with Garcia but shot a two-over 74 to finish fifth.
Matt Wallace posted a 68 for third spot, while James Morrison was fourth.
The win was a welcome piece of good news for Garcia in a difficult year in which he was disqualified from a tournament in Saudi Arabia for damaging greens and was criticised at The Open for throwing his driver at his caddie.