Francesco Molinari wins BMW PGA Championship

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Francesco Molinari claimed the first Rolex Series event of the year with a two-shot victory over Rory McIlroy at the BMW PGA Championship. 

It's a venue where Francesco Molinari has had several close misses, having finished in the top 10 in five of his last six appearances here, but on Sunday every part of Molinari's game fell in to place. 

A year on from finishing runner-up in this event to Alex Noren, Molinari produced back-to-back bogey-free rounds on Saturday and Sunday on his way to a convincing victory at Wentworth's West Course. And it's a win that means a lot to him. 

"It's amazing," he said. "I've been close so many times. If I could pick one tournament to win in my career it would be this one so to finally get over the line was amazing. I can't wait to be back next year."

The Italian had began the day tied for a share of the lead with World No.8 Rory McIlroy, but led from the front for the remainder of the tournament after carding an early birdie on the third hole and consolodating his lead further with another gain at the fourth. 

The pair matched birdies on the 8th, but back-to-back bogeys from McIlroy around the turn dropped him back into a group with Lucas Bjeregaard and Alex Noren - four shots adrift of the leader. 

A final birdie on the 12th saw Molinari reach 17-under-par and stay four clear of McIlroy, who was failing to match the form over the weekend that he had shown during Friday's impressive round that he had said was one of the best he'd played this year. 

Despite a late charge, McIlroy's eagle putt on the 18th came up shy to put pressure on Molinari, who went on to hole a testing par-putt that ensured a two-shot victory over the former champion. 

"I knew it wasn't going to be easy with Rory today, he probably didn't play his best but I still knew he was going to charge back the last few holes.

molinari

Meanwhile, Alex Noren's bid to become the fourth player to succesfully defend the BMW PGA Championship came up short, finishing in a tie for third place with Lucas Bjeregaard on 14-under, who put on an impressive Sunday display which included eight birdies on his way to a closing 65. 

A win here is a big boost for Molinari's Ryder Cup chances as this event marks the first tournament where points are increased, and the 35-year-old will now be focusing on the next Rolex Series event - next week's Italian Open. 

"I came into this week knowing that I was a long way back in the Ryder Cup and that something pretty special needed to happen. We are halfway there and next week is another important week from that point of view and hopefully another successful week for me."

Rory McIlroy: A Win Is Close

Following his dominant showing on Friday that gave him a two-shot lead after 54-holes, there was a big expectation that Rory McIlroy would go on to claim his second BMW PGA Championship. Instead, it was a disappointing weekend that left him in second place. 

His game didn't quite come together on either Saturday or Sunday, with a mixture of wayward drives and missed opportunities. On Saturday, he hit three spectators that arguably helped keep him in play as he managed a one-under 71 to stay tied for the lead, but on Sunday he couldn't quite get the putter going as Molinari outplayed him for victory. 

After his final round, McIlroy expessed his disappointment but added that he thinks another win is close. 

"It's close," he said. "It's very close. I've given myself a great chance here this week. I didn't quite pull it off but it's not far away.

"I get a bit down on myself because my expectations are high and with a 36-hole lead, I should have closed it out this week but that's not taking anything away from Francesco. He played a great weekend and bogey-free around here is some playing - he deserved the win.

"I think when you're working through a bit of a swing change or a swing tweak, it takes more than a week's work to try to bed it in and this is my first competitive start since trying to rectify things.

"It's not a bad week. I got off to a great start, I gave myself a nice cushion after 36 but there's still enough loose shots in that first 36 holes to know that it's not quite there.

"I could have maybe held it together a bit better over the final couple of days but I held in there, I scrambled well, I hung in tough."

WITB: Francesco Molinari

Driver: 
TaylorMade M4 (8.5-degree Tensei White 60x)

Fairway Woods:
TaylorMade M3 (13-degree X-Torsion Green 70x)
TaylorMade M4 (18-degree X-Torsion Green 70x)

Irons:
TaylorMade P790 4-iron (DG X100)
TaylorMade P750 5-PW (DG X100)

Wedges:
TaylorMade Milled Grind 50-degree (56-degree DG S400)
TaylorMade Hi-Toe (60-degree DG S400)