Rory McIlroy added to his list of near misses this season by failing to build on a 54-hole lead and slipping to second at the BMW PGA Championship.

This season the world-number-eight has sat one shot off the pace with 18 to play in Abu Dhabi and ended in four back in third; he failed to close a one-shot gap between himself and Haotong Li over the final round in Dubai; and sitting behind only Patrick Reed heading into the final-round at Augusta National, McIlroy failed to get his hands on a first Masters title and career grand slam.

And that ‘so close yet so far’ pain continued this week in England as he failed to end a two-year wait for a European Tour title despite his commanding position.

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McIlroy began at Wentworth with a 67 and 65 before his Saturday 71 left him tied at the top with Francesco Molinari.

Then a final round of 70 on Sunday was well short of the mark as Molinari raced ahead with a bogeyless 68 to claim the first Rolex Series title of the season.

Sitting at 13-under-par, McIlroy and Molinari began the day four shots ahead of the chasing pack and Molinari moved ahead from the off with birdies on the third, fourth and then eighth to make the turn in a three-shot advantage over McIlroy, who cancelled out a birdie on eight with a bogey on nine.

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Molinari then added a fourth birdie of the round on the 12th and McIlroy, cancelling out a 10th hole bogey with a 12th hole birdie of his own, was now four off Molinari’s pace and having to share second position with defending champion Alex Noren and Lucas Bjerregaard.

From there it was four straight pars apiece, and Bjerregaard moved ahead of McIlroy to 14-under and into solo second with a 65. If McIlroy was to get back into this, he would need to gain four shots on Molinari over the course of the closing two par fives.

But for McIlroy, usually so assertive when out in front, it was not to be. There were birdies on the 17th and 18th but, with Molinari holding firm at 17-under, it was too little too late and the prolonging wait for a European Tour title continues.