March 24, 2019

Molinari storms home to win at Arnie's Place

13 March 2019, 10:14 | Henrietta Morgan

Molinari claims Palmer Invitational as McIlroy fades

2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational scores, grades: Francesco Molinari wins with final-round 64

Open champion Francesco Molinari continued his dream run when he shot a brilliant final round of 64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

Earlier in his career, Molinari, admittedly, lacked the killer instinct to deliver such a final-round performance.

The world number six had a fruitless day on the greens, making just one putt outside 10 feet compared to five (and a chip in) from Molinari. His five-shot comeback was the largest at Bay Hill since Woods in 2009, which he won with a birdie from 15 feet on the 18th hole.

The final day began with a clear indication that Tiger is ready to return at the Players Championship this week despite his neck injury.

"It's great, to do it here, to get it done here at this place knowing that my wife and the kids were watching back home, it's just a special, special one", Molinari said of his victory.

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"I know the clubs are good for me and I started this week - it's insane to do it here, to get it done here, at Arnie's place, knowing that my wife and my kids were watching it back home, it's just a special, special one".

Molinari said he didn't approach the final round with any special ideas of clawing his way back, instead seeking opportunities as they came along. "I think sort of protecting my position a little bit".

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

They all booked berths in the Claret Jug event through the Arnold Palmer Invitational being part of The Open Qualifying Series for the first time.

Molinari made almost 150-feet of putts on Sunday, including the 44-footer at the closing hole, an 18-footer at the 13th, and a 21-footer at the first. McIlroy and last week's victor Keith Mitchell highlighted a group of four at eight under.

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Rafa Cabrera-Bello (69) ended the tournament in a three-way tie for third place, alongside Tommy Fleetwood (68) and Im Sung-jae (68) at nine under. McIlroy finished at eight under and tied for sixth, amazingly his worst finish of 2019. "The course was firm and fast [Saturday] and I knew it wasn't going to be easy for the guys in the lead, so I thought there was an outside chance".

Molinari pointed to the first of his last four victories for sparking his turnaround.

Now, after a significant rest, Molinari has one more trophy to add to his collection with the Masters only a month away.

Molinari, normally known for his roped irons and tight wedges, actually finished with much better driving and putting numbers than he did with his irons. "He's obviously holed a lot of putts to do that because you can't get close to these pins".

"Finding motivation was easy after previous year", Molinari said. "So from there I started building my confidence and just saying I could get it done". The Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour.

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