By Brian Keogh
Red-hot Rory McIlroy failed to grab his first tour win at the Madrid Open as Dane Mads Vibe-Hastrup broke his duck.
But the exciting Holywood hotshot, 18, continued his brilliant start to the pro game with a share of fourth place after a roller coaster 70 that featured an eagle, five birdies and five bogeys.
And he's immediately set his sights on become the youngest winner in European Tour history in this week's Portugal Masters.
Up to 95th in the money list, McIlroy said: "It's been another good week. I would have taken it when I came here.
"I think I have done well after all that has gone over the last few weeks. There was a lot to contend with, so coming here and finishing in the top five is pretty good.
"That’s two good weeks in a row – I just hope to follow it on next week. It's onwards and upwards."
Despite finishing five shots behind Vibe-Hastrup on 11 under par, McIlroy pocketed €41,580 to take his earnings to €268,030 from just three starts as a pro.
But the Dane never gave McIlroy a chance in the final round as he closed with a five under par 67 to win his first title by three shots from Spain's Alejandro Cañizares.
Overnight leader Daniel Vancsik - who crashed a nightmare nine on the par four fifth - rallied to shoot 73 and finish alone in third thanks a birdie at the 18th.
Four off the pace overnight, McIlroy was always chasing and paid the price for his aggression by twice three-putting from inside 15 feet.
And after the experience of playing in the final group in Madrid, he believes he has the game to win in Portugal this week.
He said: "I am hitting it really good. If I could get a couple of more putts to drop it would make the difference.
"Mads played very well today and I would have had to shoot 65 to get near him. He played very well and didn’t give me a chance.
"It would have been nice to hole that putt at the last to finish third instead of fourth but I am happy with the result."
Just four shots behind big-hitting Vancsik after a third round 66, McIlroy was too erratic on the front nine on another sun-splashed day in Spain.
But two birdies and two bogeys in the first six holes left him trailing Vibe-Hastrup by three shots.
And the gap was soon five when McIlroy three putted from 10 feet at the seventh and lipped out from eight feet for birdie at the par-five ninth.
He picked up just one shot on the leader when he eagled the 10th from 20 feet and while he birdied the 12th, a bogey at the 13th and another three-putt at the 14th killed his chances.
Birdies at the 16th and 17th helped him move up to joint third before Vancsik's late birdie.
Reflecting on a stop-start day, McIlroy added: "Some days you get on a roll and others you don’t – I just couldn’t build momentum today.
"Every time I got a birdie I would give it away in the next couple of holes but I am very happy with the performance this week and that’s me probably into the top 100 on the Order of Merit now so I am happy. Onwards and upwards."
Damien McGrane shared 14th place on seven under after a closing 69 with Graeme McDowell (70) 32nd and Peter Lawrie (75) in 65th.
Meanwhile, Ulsterman Gareth Maybin shared seventh place in the doc Salbe European Challenge in Germany to move to 51st in the rankings.
Scotland’s Peter Whiteford hit a 66 to claim his second win this month and all but guarantee his 2008 European Tour card.