Rory McIlroy showed his class and maturity in defeat as Italy’s Molinari brothers clinched the Omega Mission Hills World Cup by a shot after a thrilling finish.

Leading by three shots with nine to play, McIlroy and Graeme McDowell had to settle for a share of second place with defending champions Sweden after failing to repeat the fireworks of the first three days.

The Ulster duo were bidding to win Ireland’s third World Cup title, 12 years after Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley and 51 years after Harry Bradshaw and Christy O’Connor.

McIlroy said: “It's been a great week. I think myself and Graeme really enjoyed it, especially out there together and being in the hunt today, it was a really good feeling. It's a pity we were not able to pull it off.

“I'm very happy for them [Italy]. For two brothers to go out and win a title like this, it's incredible. It will be a great sense of satisfaction in the family tonight, but also the whole country. If it wasn't going to be us to win today, I wouldn't begrudge the Italians to win it. They played great today - they deserved it.”

Leading by a shot from Italy’s Edoardo and Francesco Milinari and Swedish pair Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson, Ireland shot a two under 70 in the final round of foursomes.

But the Italians fired a 68 with younger brother Francesco holing three consecutive birdie putts on the back nine before Edoardo sealed the win at the last.

The Italians were bunkered greenside at the 18th but Francesco splashed out to three feet. 

McDowell had a birdie putt to force a play-off but while it was tracking perfectly, it came up short and McIlroy tapped in for a 70 that was not enough to secure what would have been a wire-to-wire victory.

Stenson lipped out from 25 feet at the last in the preceeding match and while a birdie could have forced a play-off, he confessed that he simply didn’t putt well enough all day as the defending champions closed with a 70.

World No 10 McIlroy will finish off the best season of his career at the Nedbank (Million Dollar) Challenge in Sun City this week. With World ranking points on offer, he believes he can move further up the rankings.

McDowell has a week off before teeing it up alongside Boo Weekley in Greg Norman’s Shark Shootout at Tiburón Golf Club in Florida from December 9-13.

Ireland at the World Cup

Competed 53 times

Victories (2)

Year Team Venue

1958 Harry Bradshaw/Christy O’Connor Club de Golf Mexico City, Mexico

1997 Padraig Harrington/Paul McGinley Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA

 

Other Leading Results

Year Team Venue

2000 10th Padraig Harrington/Paul McGinley Buenos Aires AG, Argentina

2002 8th Padraig Harrington/Paul McGinley Vista Vallarta, Puerta Vallarta,Mexico

2003 5th Padraig Harrington/Paul McGinley Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA

2004 3rd Padraig Harrington/Paul McGinley Real Club de Golf Sevilla, Spain

 

Recent Results

Year Team Venue

2008 16th Graeme McDowell/Paul McGinley Mission Hills Golf Club, China

2007 24th Gareth Maybin/Michael Hoey Mission Hills Golf Club, China

2006 12th Padraig Harrington/Paul McGinley The Sandy Lane Resort, Barbados

2005 12th Padraig Harrington/Paul McGinley Victoria Clube de Golfe, Portugal

2004 3rd Padraig Harrington/Paul McGinley Real Club de Golf Sevilla, Spain

 

Years as Host Country

Year Course Winners

1960 Portmarnock, Dublin USA (Arnold Palmer/Sam Snead)

Fast Facts

Ireland have competed in every World Cup since the tournament began, except one.

Ireland has only hosted the World Cup once, at Portmarnock in 1960. It was the second time the tournament was played on European soil and the same American team of Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer that won on the tournament’s inaugural visit to Europe triumphed again in Ireland.