McIlroy lets another title chance slip

UNLUCKY Rory McIlroy put on a brave face after following up his Masters heartbreak with another final-day collapse at the Malaysian Open.

The Northern Irishman held a three-shot lead at one stage during a third round that ran into Sunday because of rain, but ended up two shots behind the winner, the prodigious Italian 17-year-old Matteo Manassero.

“At this moment I’m pretty disappointed but it was a good week,” insisted McIlroy, who led last week in Augusta after 63 holes only to crumble but travelled for 25 hours to play in Malaysia just days later.

“I started off really well in the tournament. To shoot the scores that I did considering the travelling is a pretty good effort.”

McIlroy extended his overnight lead with a birdie on 10 as he and playing partner Manassero hurried to finish their third rounds, but a double bogey at the 15th saw him slip behind his teenage rival before the final round.

And despite three birdies in four holes from the eighth, McIlroy stuttered again with a double bogey and two bogeys in a 69 to finish on 14 under par, behind Manassero and Frenchman Gregory Bourdy, whose 67 saw him snatch second place.

Manassero’s victory was his second on the European Tour and a timely success ahead of his 18th birthday tomorrow. He said: “It’s a great achievement after just 11 months of professional golf. It’s a great achievement and gets me into the Majors.”

LEADERBOARD | MALAYSIAN OPEN
-16 Matteo Manassero (ITA)
-15 Gregory Bourdy (FRA)
-14 Rory McIlroy (NIR)
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-8 Martin Kaymer (GER)
-7 Charl Schwartzel (SA)