LONDON (Reuters) - Italian Franceso Molinari won the PGA Championship title at Wentworth on Sunday as Rory McIlroy faded in the final round to miss out on the chance of victory in the European Tour’s flagship tournament for the second time.
The pair started the day level on 13 under par and while Molinari carded a flawless 68 to finish at 17 under, McIlroy’s 70 left him two shots adrift in second place despite birdies at the last two holes.
“It is disappointing,” said Northern Ireland’s McIlroy who won the Wentworth tournament in 2014. “He (Molinari) was like a robot, he doesn’t hit it off line. I would have needed a great round to beat him.
“Today I played similar to Saturday, I could not get going and gave Molinari a lead early on. It was a little too late for me in the end.”
McIlroy, four-times major champion, wasted a birdie opportunity on the second hole and Molinari birdied the third and fourth to move two clear.
McIlroy dropped shots at the ninth and 10th holes to leave Molinari three ahead and he never looked like losing his lead until the 18th.
He was close to finding water as McIlroy set up an eagle opportunity, but the Italian’s ball came to a rest on the fringe and the world number 32 safely made par to claim the title after finishing runner-up last year.
Molinari, 35, continued his fine record at Wentworth, having finished in the top 10 in five of the last six years, and boosted his chances of earning a place in Europe’s Ryder Cup team after being on the winning side in 2010 and 2012.
“If I could pick one tournament to win in my career it would be this one,” Molinari said.
“The Ryder Cup is very special. It hurts to watch it on TV. You really want to be there. I’ve been lucky to be on two winning teams and I hope to be able to win a third time.”
Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard, who birdied five of the back nine, and defending champion Alex Noren of Sweden finished in a tie for third on 14 under par.
Reporting by Peter Hall, editing by Ed Osmond