Italy’s Francesco Molinari produced a final round of 68 at Wentworth to win the BMW PGA Championship by two shots from Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.

Francesco Molinari wins BMW PGA Championship

Italy’s Francesco Molinari won the European Tour’s flagship event, beating Rory McIlroy by two strokes in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Molinari began the final round tied for the lead with Rory McIlroy but two early birdies at the third and fourth holes saw the Italian move into a lead he wouldn’t give up. Both he and McIlroy made gains at the 8th but McIlroy gave his birdie back with a bogey on the ninth. At the turn, Molinari was three shots in front.

The Italian played supremely solid and measured golf on the back nine to hold off the pack. He came home in 36 and never gave those chasing a chance to get back into it. He went bogey free over the third and fourth rounds.

McIlroy made a late run with a birdie at the 17th and another at the 18th, but he fell just short. He had a putt for eagle on the home hole, that would have put the pressure on Molinari who had played the hole conservatively, but the Northern Irishman left it in the jaws.

Rory McIlroy was runner-up

Rory McIlroy was runner-up

Molinari tapped in for a closing par and a win that should see him move into the top-20 on the Official World Golf Ranking.

“It feels amazing, I’ve been close so many times. If I could pick one tournament to win it would be this one,” he said. “To get over the line is brilliant. I didn’t make it easy as you saw on the 18th, but it was ok and I’m very, very happy. I look forward to coming back next year as defending champion.”

With points counting 1.5 times towards the Ryder Cup rankings, the win was significant in Molinari’s quest to make the 2018 team.

“It’s big for me,” he said. “I can’t tell you how hard it is to watch that event on TV and I would love to be in the team this time out.”

Defending champion Alex Noren produced another fine week to finish the event in a tie for third place with Lucas Bjerregaard.

Denmark’s Bjerregaard made a great run through the field with a wonderful closing round of 65. He birdied five holes on his back nine to finish the 72 holes on 14-under-par.

Branden Grace of South Africa tied for fifth with Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Molinari finished two clear of McIlroy

Molinari finished two clear of McIlroy

Molinari was runner-up to Alex Noren in this event last season and has finished in the top-10 at Wentworth on four further occasions. This time out he was able to stay ahead and claim his fifth European Tour title.

12-months on from the official unveiling of the new West Course at Wentworth, chief architect Ernie Els believes the West Course has now come of age. He is delighted to see the layout receiving praise from the world of golf.

Els plays into 18th

Els plays into 18th

“Right at the start I would say our goal, everyone’s goal, was to make Wentworth the leading venue for Championship golf in Europe and we believe that is what we’ve got here. It’s the perfect championship venue,” said Els.

Ernie Els is pleased with how the course at Wentworth has progressed

Ernie Els is pleased with how the course at Wentworth has progressed

“This was the blueprint, so to speak. The whole strategy, the core shot values, the construction and the look of the greens’ complexes, the bunkering, literally everything is now just as we envisaged it. And seriously, these must be the best putting surfaces in the country. They are incredible! It’s so nice to see and, of course, it’s great to hear the positive comments from the players this week and from the members who love it, too.”

BMW PGA Championship
Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, Surrey
24-27 May
Purse: €5,970,000 Par: 72

1 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 70 67 66 68 271
2 Rory McIlroy (NIR) 67 65 71 70 273
T3 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 65 73 71 65 274
T3 Alex Noren (Swe) 69 68 70 67 274
T5 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 68 69 71 67 275
T5 Branden Grace (RSA) 69 69 69 68 275
7 Darren Fichardt (RSA) 66 72 71 67 276
T8 Matt Fitzpatrick (Eng) 67 71 73 67 278
T8 Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 69 72 69 68 278
T8 Rafa Cabrera Bello (Esp) 72 68 70 68 278
T8 Ross Fisher (Eng) 71 68 68 71 278

Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage