Sunday 21 January 2018

Rory McIlroy dazzles with 66 but falls agonisingly short at Quail Hollow

Rory McIlroy watches his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow
Rory McIlroy watches his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow

A final round 66 was not enough for defending champion Rory McIlroy to win the Wells Fargo Championship, with America's James Hahn prevailing after a play-off with Roberto Castro.

McIlroy has dominated the Quail Hollow tournament since 2010, with two wins and three other top-10 finishes.

The highlight of the Northern Irishman's victory last year was a course record 61 in the final round - and this time he again impressed on the Sunday with eight birdies.

However, bogeys at the first and last undid his good work and left him two shots off the pace, sharing fourth place with American trio Phil Mickelson, Andrew Loupe and Rickie Fowler.

A rueful McIlroy told Sky Sports: "If you can take away those fives at the start and the end, it was a pretty good scorecard. I played well, I hit a lot of better iron shots, I converted a lot of chances. I did a lot of things right. I was trying to post ten-under par. That was the score in my mind, so I needed to birdie the last couple of holes. It just didn't quite work out for me."

Next up is Sawgrass this week, followed by the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

"It's two big weeks coming up. It's a decent performance here. I'm positive and confident going into the next couple of weeks. Looking forward to next week, with my game running into a little bit of form," he added.

Hahn and Castro finished on nine under par - but the Seoul-born player came through in a play-off with his compatriot to win his second PGA Tour title.

The 35-year-old holed a four foot putt for par on the first extra hole at the North Carolina venue, while Castro could only manage a bogey following a wayward tee shot.

Justin Rose was a shot off the pace after a final round 71, with bogeys at the 12th and 16th proving his undoing after three birdies.

The Englishman tweeted afterwards: "Tough final day at the office, but many positives to take from this week. (-8 3rd) Thanks for all the support #team."

Mickelson matched McIlroy's 66 to finish alongside him on seven under, alongside Loupe and third round leader Fowler - whose hopes of winning the event were undone by a final round 74.

Elsewhere, Paul Casey slipped down the leaderboard with a final round 77 seeing him share 41st position on two over par.

Fellow Englishman Ian Poulter was two shots further back in a share for 61st after a 71, a figure matched by Scotland's Martin Laird, who finished a shot back in a share of 65th.

England's Luke Donald carded two birdies and three bogeys to finish with a 73 which earned him a share of 71st.

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