A trio of reloads for Westwood, McDowell and Bjorn

VIRGINIA WATER, England Fri May 25, 2012 8:34pm BST

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VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Thomas Bjorn are titans of the European Tour but all three were forced to hit provisional balls after finding trouble off the 17th tee at the PGA Championship on Friday.

"That has to be the first time in my career all three guys have hit provisional balls off one tee," 2010 U.S. Open champion McDowell told reporters after a second horror finish in consecutive days meant he missed the halfway cut.

"That was a strange scenario. We all hit it in the trees on the left," he added after slumping to a one-over-par 73 for a three-over total of 147.

McDowell, who incurred a harsh two-shot penalty at the 18th on Thursday after his ball moved in loose branches as he was walking towards it, dropped a stroke at each of the three closing holes in the second round.

"It was a case of what might have been the last couple of days," said the Northern Irishman who scored the winning point for Europe at the 2010 Ryder Cup.

"But conditions were very tough today. Those greens were really difficult to putt on.

"They are a little slow and you've really got to force it from close range and in these types of conditions you're going to leave yourself a lot of five and six footers."

World number three Westwood said he and his two playing partners suffered in the freshening breezes that whipped up for the afternoon starters.

"This course is not really set up for winds like this," said the Englishman after squeezing through to the weekend by the skin of his teeth with a 75 for 145.

"When it starts blowing like this and starts swirling around in these trees you have to be ultra precise," added Westwood who carded a double-bogey seven at the 17th.

"It was a tough drive on 17. You try to aim down the right and sling it in a bit and we all overdid it."

Experienced Dane Bjorn, who has 13 tour victories to his name, escaped with a par-five at the 17th and eventually returned a 70 for 144.

(Editing by Tom Bartlett)

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