Published: Tue, March 12, 2019
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Francesco Molinari Shoots Final-Round 64 to Win Arnold Palmer Invitational

Francesco Molinari Shoots Final-Round 64 to Win Arnold Palmer Invitational

The battle between the Englishman and the Irishman was won by an Italian.

Dating back to a year ago, Sunday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill was the ninth consecutive time McIlroy was a part of a final-round final pairing and failed to walk off the 18th hole a victor. "I hit solid shots into greens, it's just asking a lot of yourself to try and hole 25-footers all day to make birdies".

He escaped nine with a par after "probably the worst mud ball I've ever was good to get away with a four there".

He rolled in a 35-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 75, and while that big fist pump seemed out of place for someone who endured such a tough day, he had reason to cheer.

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

Molinari did it playing a new set of clubs for the first time, but it was his putter that carried him to victory on Sunday. He gained 4.2 strokes against the field with his putting on Sunday.

Two shots back of McIlroy, Kirk and a logjam of other players sharing third is Aaron Baddeley, the leading Australian at three under.

"Coming from Italy, we weren't exposed to that much golf", Molinari said. "But I think it's just been part of the process".

"I've become more comfortable with it", he said on Wednesday. But it didn't take him long to figure it out. "So, no, I'm happy with everything". "Today someone was saying it's a bit like a U.S. Open, which I could totally see".

The Open champion enjoyed his "best putting day ever" which he capped off by sinking a 45-foot birdie at the hard par-four 18th at Bay Hill in Orlando.

The other two spots went to Sungjae Im, the 20-year-old South Korean who closed with a 68 and tied for third; and Honda Classic victor Keith Mitchell, who made eight birdies in his final round of 66 to tie for sixth.

Canada's Roger Sloan shot a one-under 71 and finished the week at four under and tied for 23rd. His 2018 campaign featured seven finishes inside the top-10 at events and a final FedExCup rank of 13.

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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.

And by the look of Bay Hill in the warm, late afternoon - greens that looked yellow, fairways feeling tighter in such firm conditions - it won't be any easier. On Sunday, he had fought his way to six under, and was tied for 15th with two holes to go.

"The thing that really was impressive about this though was that nearly 90 percent of the players thought that having the pin in acted as a plumb line, and so it gave better perception on the slope of the greens".

Arriving at the sandtrap, both he and caddie Joe Cruz didn't see the golf ball.

Molinari drained more than 146 feet of putts - 32 more than Fitzpatrick and McIlroy combined. He was back to two-over where he had started from for the day.

McIlroy's success has been fairly consistent throughout his career on the PGA Tour.

DOHA, Qatar - Oliver Wilson of England grabbed the sole lead of the Qatar Masters by shooting a 3-under 69 in the third round on Saturday despite making his first bogey of the tournament. It doesn't matter if you're final group, fifth group, it's golf at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. "Those are two of the guys that you want to play with".

However, he is confident a win is close, having tied second in his recent PGA Tour start at the Puerto Rico Open. And his Sunday 64 that won him the Arnold Palmer Invitational proves last summer's breakout was no fluke. One, he hopes to put to bed this week. That's the great thing about golf.

Fifteen players were within five shots of the lead. Somehow that worked. Sort of. Vijay Singh will be teeing it up with the kids for the third time in four weeks at the Players Championship.

The tournament within the tournament related to three places for this year's Open Championship.

"Tower of Terror", he said, and that might be appropriate if the conditions at Bay Hill stay this way.

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