'Onwards and upwards' for fourth-placed McIlroy

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The Independent Online

Rory McIlroy's brilliant start to his professional career continued with a share of fourth place in the Madrid Open yesterday. McIlroy carded a final-round 70 to finish five shots behind Denmark's Mads Vibe-Hastrup, who fired a closing 67 to finish 16 under par and claim the £103,000 first prize and two-year tour exemption.

The Northern Ireland teenager was attempting to become the youngest winner in European Tour history at 18 years and 163 days but was never truly in contention at Club de Campo with a rollercoaster round of five birdies, one eagle and five bogeys. But it was another impressive performance in only his third event in the paid ranks, coming just a week after finishing third in the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.

"I would have taken [fourth] when I came here," admitted McIlroy, leading amateur in the Open at Carnoustie in July. "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.

"I'm playing very well at present. I'm hitting it really well. If I could get a couple more putts to drop it would make the difference, but Mads played very well today and I would have had to shoot 65 to get near him.

"It was kind of stop-start at points today, but that's the way it goes. 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."

McIlroy went into the final round four behind Daniel Vancsik and had a first-hand view as the Argentine crashed to a quintuple-bogey nine on the fifth to throw the tournament wide open.

After pulling his second shot to the 411-yard par-five into thick rough left of the green, Vancsik took two swipes at his ball without moving it and then, after taking a penalty drop, failed to reach the green with his sixth shot.

That left Vibe-Hastrup in the lead and the 28-year-old never looked in danger of relinquishing it as he carded birdies at the eighth, 10th, 11th and 13th.

Alejandro Canizares, born in Madrid, briefly closed within a shot when he birdied the 16th and Vibe-Hastrup dropped his only shot of the day on the 15th, but the Spaniard promptly bogeyed the next. A birdie on the 16th effectively sealed victory.