FRANCESCO Molinari shot a flawless final round at Wentworth to win his first Rolex Series title at the BMW PGA Championship.

The Italian started Sunday in a share of the lead with 2014 champion Rory McIlroy, but hit the front on his own with a birdie on the third and never looked back, signing for a 68 and a 17 under par total.

McIlroy finished two shots back after a birdie-birdie finish handed him a 70, one clear of defending champion Alex Noren and Dane, Lucas Bjerregaard.

“It’s amazing,”said Molinari, who had finished in the top 10 in five of his previous six Wentworth appearances including second place last year. “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.”

Molinari’s fifth European Tour victory takes him alongside Costantino Rocca as the most prolific Italian winners in Tour history.

He took home the winner’s prize of one million euros (£875,000) and pushed himself into Thomas Bjorn’s thoughts for Europe’s Ryder Cup team ahead of the contest in France in September.

Molinari, who played in the 2010 and 2012 Ryder Cups, is now looking to build on his Wentworth success at the Italian Open which starts tomorrow (Thursday), an event he has won twice before.

Molinari, 35, continued: “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy with Rory, he probably didn’t play his best, but I still knew he was going to charge back the last few holes.

“I came into the 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 the Italian Open is another important week from that point of view and hopefully another successful week for me.”

Molinari hit a wonderful approach into the third and holed an eight-footer for birdie, with another excellent approach into the par five eighth bringing another birdie, leading to a three-shot lead at the turn.

A smart up and down from the front of the par five 12th brought a fourth birdie and a four-shot lead before the Italian played a smart, risk-free final six holes to ease to victory.

Bjerregaard cut the gap to three with a superb closing 65 – equalling the lowest round of the week – including a hat-trick of birdies and then four in a row from the tenth before adding another on the 17th.

McIlroy scrambled well to stay level par in the early stages, but back-to-back bogeys on the ninth and tenth dropped him back before he recovered with birdies on the par five 12th, 17th and 18th to leapfrog Bjerregaard.

Noren finished with a course-record 62 last season for victory, and it looked like he might be the man to make a charge again as he birdied the third, fourth, seventh, tenth and 12th, until a bogey on the 13th halted his momentum.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat made an eagle from long range on the fourth and birdied four of his last six holes in a 67 that moved him to 13 under alongside South African Branden Grace, who recovered from a bogey on the third with gains on the fifth, tenth, 11th, 14th and 17th.

Grace’s countryman Darren Fichardt finished with four birdies to get to 12 under, two shots clear of Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello, English pair Ross Fisher, on his home course, and Matthew Fitzpatrick, plus Thai Thongchai Jaidee.

More than 80,000 spectators flocked to Wentworth for the tournament over the four days.

Final leaderboard: -17 Molinari (Ita); -15 McIlroy (NI); -14 Bjerregaard (Den), Noren (Swe); -13 Grace (SA), Aphibarnrat (Tha); -12 Fichardt (SA); -10 Fitzpatrick (Eng), Jaidee (Tha), Cabrera-Bello (Spa), Fisher (Eng); -9 McDowell (NI), Burmester (SA), Kinhult (Swe) Selected others: -8 Lowry (Ire), Horsfield (Eng); -7 Fleetwood (Eng), Poulter (Eng), Casey (Eng), Rock (Eng); -6 Westwood (Eng); -5 Ramsay (Sco)