Rory McIlroy’s victory charge came too late at Wentworth as Francesco Molinari delivered a clinic in front-running to win the BMW PGA Championship by two shots with a four-under-par 68 on Sunday.
McIlroy, who led by three strokes at halfway, entered the final round tied for the lead with Molinari on 13 under par but a Sunday shootout at the European Tour’s flagship event never really materialized.
Instead, as McIlroy toiled to a 70 that was propped up by birdies on the par fives at Nos. 17 and 18, Molinari went bogey-free for a second straight day to claim the fifth victory of his career and the biggest since a World Golf Championship in Shanghai in 2010.
The Italian only dropped two shots all week and finished on 17-under 271, with McIlroy alone in second place. Alex Noren (67) and Lucas Bjerregaard (65) were tied for third place a stroke further back.
Molinari moved into the automatic qualifying places for the Ryder Cup, which he hasn’t played since 2012 when Europe beat the United States in the so-called “Miracle at Medinah.”
He’d previously had five top-10 finishes in the last six years at Wentworth, including being runner-up to Noren last year.
On that occasion, Noren closed with a 10-under 62 — one of the best rounds ever on the European Tour — and the Swede embarked on another last-day charge 12 months later, a fifth birdie of the day at No. 12 briefly drawing him to within two shots of Molinari.
It was the closest he came, with a bogey at the next virtually ending his bid for victory.
Molinari played safe and error-free golf, establishing a three-shot lead by the turn with birdies at Nos. 3, 4 and 8, and there were no dramas on the back nine — until the final hole, which he played holding a three-stroke cushion over McIlroy.
With McIlroy on the green in two and facing a 20-foot putt for eagle, Molinari sent in his third shot that span back toward the water protecting the green, only for the ball to rest in the fringe.
McIlroy left his putt inches short and Molinari two-putted for par.
McIlroy, the four-time major winner and former No. 1, played what he described as one of his best rounds of 2018 on Friday, a bogey-free 65 that left him as an overwhelming favorite to follow up his victory here in 2014.
He struggled off the tee in shooting 71 on Saturday and started the final round with errant drives on Nos. 1 and 3 (both right, into spectators) and No. 4 (left). After a bogey at No. 10, he was the only player in the top 10 over par but he birdied the three par fives coming home to salvage what was otherwise a disappointing Sunday.
Rose gets to 20 under in win
Justin Rose closed with a six-under 64 on Sunday to finish at 20 under at Colonial for a three-stroke victory over defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka in the Fort Worth Invitational.
It was the ninth career PGA Tour victory for Rose, the 37-year-old Englishman and No. 5 player in the world who also won his 2017-18 season debut in October at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. He is the fifth player with multiple wins this season. Rose got nearly $1.3 million and a plaid jacket for winning at Hogan’s Alley.
Koepka shot 63, but had started the day four strokes behind Rose in the final group. Emiliano Grillo had a 64 to finish third at 16 under.
While Rose missed matching Zach Johnson’s 2010 tournament scoring record of 259 because of bogey on the 72nd hole, first-round leader Kevin Na matched the course record with a closing 61 and finished fourth at 14 under.
Minjee Lee wins LPGA event with birdie on last hole
Minjee Lee of Australia birdied the 18th hole to close with a four-under 68 and win the LPGA Volvik Championship by one shot over I.K. Kim.
Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round of 67 around the same time. Lee needed a birdie to win on reachable par-five 18th. Her second shot landed a few feet to the right of the green, and she calmly chipped to within three feet
She made the putt to finish at 16-under 272 at Travis Pointe Country Club. It was Lee’s fourth career victory, and her first since 2016.
Kim shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn’t enough to force a playoff.
Broadhurst wins Senior PGA Championship
Paul Broadhurst shot an eight-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.
The 52-year-old Englishman finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.
Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a four-under 31 on the back nine.
Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).
Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory. He won six times on the European Tour and has three European Senior Tour victories.