Arnold Palmer Invitational: Francesco Molinari snatches two-shot Bay Hill win


Molinari made only one birdie in round three but recorded eight on the final day
Arnold Palmer Invitational final leaderboard
-12 F Molinari (Ita); -10 M Fitzpatrick (Eng); -9 S Im (Kor), T Fleetwood (Eng), R Cabrera Bello (Spa); -8 K Mitchell (US), S Kang (Kor), M Wallace (Eng), R McIlroy (NI)
Selected others: -4 I Poulter (Eng); -3 T Hatton (Eng); -2 S Horsfield (Eng); +2 G McDowell (NI); +3 E Pepperell (Eng); +5 J Rose (Eng)

Open champion Francesco Molinari produced a stunning, bogey-free eight-under 64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational by two shots in Orlando.

The 36-year-old world number 10, five behind overnight, sank a 44-foot birdie putt at the last for a 12-under total.

Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick, who began one ahead in his bid for a maiden PGA title, dropped only one shot but could only find two birdies in his 71.

Rory McIlroy also had only two birdies and he tied for sixth at eight under.

With the firm fast greens again difficult to hold at Bay Hill, Molinari, European Tour Golfer of the Year in 2018, holed from thick rough behind the green at the eighth for his fourth birdie of the day.

The Italian, who teed off an hour and 40 minutes before the final group, left an eagle putt on the edge of the 16th hole but rattled in an eighth birdie at the last to set a formidable target, putting Fitzpatrick two shots behind in second place with six holes to play.

Molinari also received a red cardigan with a badge reading: “Arnie’s Army, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Champion” and the late, great Arnold Palmer’s umbrella logo

The 24-year-old from Sheffield, who did not drop a shot in round three, then made his first bogey of the final day at the 15th to fall three adrift with three to play.

A 12-foot eagle chance at the 16th slid by and he needed to hole a three-foot par putt at the last to secure sole possession of second.

That entitled the world number 44 to Special Temporary Membership on the PGA Tour, with unlimited sponsor exemptions for the remainder of the season.

McIlroy, one behind going into the final round, had curled in a 15 foot birdie putt at the third to share the lead, but a five-foot birdie chance spun out at the next and he dropped a shot at the par three seventh after missing the green.

The Northern Irishman had a drive and a wedge at the 501-yard par-five 16th but, like playing partner Fitzpatrick, the putts would not drop on the final day and his eagle chance also stayed up.

Combative Englishman Matt Wallace reached 10 under with an eagle at the 16th before he found a greenside bunker at the next and his par putt lipped out. The frustration mounted for the world number 37 when he three-putted the last and finished eight under.

First-round leader Rafa Cabrera-Bello was sharing second when his approach to the last found water and he dropped to nine under.

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, the halfway leader who slipped down the leaderboard with a 76 on Saturday, also finished on nine under.

The world number 14 played out from a fairway bunker to within two feet at the first for a birdie, one of five in his closing 68.

Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell, who had hoped to gain Open qualification this week, had two double bogeys and a triple bogey in a 78 and was tied for 54th at two over, having begun with a 68.

Source link