Published: Wed, March 13, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Francesco Molinari storms to Arnold Palmer Invitational victory

Francesco Molinari storms to Arnold Palmer Invitational victory

The four-time PGA Tour victor came within a shot of the lead early in his round but a bogey at the par-4 9th started a poor run that included only one birdie, bogeys at the 12th and 17th, as well as a double-bogey six at the 15th. Sung Kang also had a big putt on the 18th hole, this one from 12 feet for par that sewed up the third and final spot offered for the British Open at Royal Portrush this summer.

Meeting with the media and donned in an Arnold Palmer red alpaca cardigan, Molinari toasted Palmer with one of the legend's favourite drinks, Ketel One vodka, on the rocks, with a twist of lemon.

"I don't know, I'm just super glad", said Molinari. A trait that is feared more than most, and he showed once again on Sunday why, when deployed properly, it's good enough to blow away the best players in the game. "It was one of my best putting rounds ever, the putting was just incredible".

Yet while Molinari had a day to remember on the greens, behind him the final pairing of Fitzpatrick and McIlroy struggled to consolodate on chances; McIlroy had irons in to all four of the par-fives but made just one birdie.

Fitzpatrick, playing 10 groups behind Molinari, was correct.

Rory McIlroy (T6): Sunday could not have been more of a letdown.

"High up there with the best wins I've had", Molinari said. Sure, it was always going to be hard to deflect the fire Molinari was spewing, but at what point in a long series of "what are you going to do about that other guy having a career day?" do you start asking, "Why isn't Rory ever that other guy?" Known for his superb ball striking and solid play, Molinari made a nice living and hoisted the occasional trophy.

Asked what had elevated his game over the past year, he said confidence had a lot to do with it.

"I just went to the locker room and watched the golf, " Molinari said.

These days, Molinari is making history.

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His T6 finish with Wallace, Sung Kang and last week's victor Keith Mitchell is McIlroy's fifth consecutive top 10 on Tour. I feel like I really didn't play that badly.

"I'm getting myself into contention every week, continue to do that, going into next week", he said.

Purse: $9.1 million. Winner's share: $1,638,000.

No one got closer than one shot to him the rest of the day.

He started so far back that Molinari finished almost two hours before the round ended.

Harding birdied three of the last four holes in a closing 66 to finish 13 under par, two shots ahead of a nine-strong group which included compatriots George Coetzee, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Erik Van Rooyen and England's Oliver Wilson.

Rickie Fowler spoke with Golf Channel about his favorite memory at Bay Hill being hanging out with Palmer and Tiger Woods.

When he won last July at Carnoustie, Molinari had to sit 30 minutes before finding out he had won his first major championship.

Sandwiching a 62nd-place finish in the WGC Mexico Championship between missed cuts at Pebble Beach and Bay Hill has left the Offaly man 45th in the world.

Not that Molinari was not complaining. "But obviously, when you get it done, then at the end it's a great feeling".

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