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Molinari outguns McIlroy to win BMW PGA

Francesco Molinari held off Rory McIlroy at Wentworth. (Photo: Getty Images)
Francesco Molinari claimed a maiden Rolex Series victory at the BMW PGA Championship after the Italian soared to a two-stroke triumph courtesy of a four under par final round 68.

Tied for the lead with four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy heading into the final round, Molinari was composure personified as his Northern Irish playing partner struggled and the 35 year old from Turin never let his guard down after back-to-back birdies at the third and fourth moved him clear at the top.

A second successive bogey-free round of the weekend and a 17 under total handed Molinari a fifth European Tour title and the largest prize fund of his career, with the 1,166,660 Race to Dubai points moving him to third position in the year-long Rankings.

The win also gives Molinari a timely boost in his hopes of making a third Ryder Cup appearance this September - with points earned in Rolex Series events multiplied by 1.5, he catapulted himself to fourth in the European Points List and into the projected automatic qualification spots.

McIlroy, meanwhile, endured a frustrating final day at the pristine Surrey venue but birdies at both of the final two holes earned him a two under 70, a runner-up finish on a 15 under total and a fourth top five in five European Tour starts this season.

Alex Noren, meanwhile, rounded off an impressive title defence with a 67 for a 14 under total and a share of third spot, alongside Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark, who carded his second 65 of the week for the biggest pay cheque of his career.

“It never feels like it’s your year but it’s great to come out on top after being close so many times down the years," said Molinari.

"It was just a great week. To be honest when I saw Rory three ahead after two days I thought it was going to be very tough to catch him but the wind probably assisted me yesterday. Today was another very solid day for me and it was just enough to get it over the line.

 “I feel drained now so I can’t think about next week in Italy too much but I’ll have a couple of days off and try to recover as much as possible. It will be a busy week but hopefully I can play similar golf to this week and be in contention again. It will be great to go back after a win like this and see so many familiar faces and celebrate with them.”

McIlroy was disappointed not to have been able to fully capitalise on his share of the third-round lead but was at least satisfied with his improved play over the closing stages  

“I’m just disappointed I didn't play better over the weekend. I was in a great position after two days. I struggled yesterday and sort of struggled today again. I just couldn't get it going.

“I let Francesco get a few shots ahead of me and I just couldn't claw that back. I played some good golf coming down the back nine and hit some better shots, but I need to work on a few things going forward.”

It was an ordinary week from an Australasian perspective with only two players making the cut, Ryan Fox the best in 43rd position while Andrew Dodt was 51st after an improved final round of 69.

The European Tour now moves to Brescia in Italy for the Italian Open where Molinari will attempt to win the event for the third time.

SIGNATURE HOLES: 8TH AT BENALLA (VIC)

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