Rory McIlroy believes he is close to finalising the fine-tuning work that helped him take early control of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth before having to settle for second.
Francesco Molinari lifted the trophy as Northern Ireland’s McIlroy was left to rue a 71 on the penultimate day, off the back of 67 and 65 in previous rounds, before closing on Sunday with late birdies to rescue a 70.
The 29-year-old had worked on changes to his swing since missing the cut in the Players Championship and said: “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 close, 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.
“It’s disappointing 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 just need to do a little bit more work and I’m looking forward to getting right back at it at Memorial next week.”
Molinari finally got his hands on the BMW PGA Championship trophy as McIlroy’s bid for a second title came up short, despite some unexpected late drama.
A closing 68 gave Molinari a 17-under-par total and two-shot winning margin over playing partner McIlroy, with defending champion Alex Noren and Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard a shot further back.
Molinari, whose second place 12 months ago was his fifth top-10 at Wentworth in the last six years, began the day in a tie for the lead with McIlroy but quickly moved clear with birdies on the third, fourth and eighth and never looked like being caught until almost making a mess of the 72nd hole.
Three ahead playing the par-five 18th, Molinari’s third shot to the green almost span back into the water and his fourth left him facing five feet for par, with McIlroy 20 feet away for eagle.
However, McIlroy agonisingly left his attempt inches short and Molinari held his nerve to hole out for par, meaning he had dropped just two shots all week, the last coming on the 10th hole of the second round.
The impressive win will take the 35-year-old back inside the world’s top 20 and into the automatic qualifying places ahead of the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris in September.