Molinari surges to win Arnold Palmer Invitational

Molinari surges to win Arnold Palmer Invitational

HOW did that just happen?

Francesco Molinari fired an impressive eight-under 64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational by two strokes on Sunday. The little Italian hasn't been at his best thus far in 2019 but he made up for it in sensational fashion in Orlando.

Playing partner Rory McIlroy took plenty of the spotlight as he started the day one behind Fitzpatrick but he also failed to make any ground.

"It was a really good day, hugely rewarding", the 33-year-old Harding said.

He all but sealed the win with a 44-foot birdie putt across the green at the last and although many of his nearest challengers still had several holes to play they faced a tough task to catch the leader and so it would prove.

Molinari now lays claim to being one of the most clutch players in world golf. It's two spots away from his career-best of fifth, achieved last September during the PGA Tour postseason.

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 missed at the next and he dropped a shot at the par three seventh after missing the green.

At the 16th he reached the green in two, leading the way for a two-putt birdie at the par-5 hole. Instead, Wallace finished with back-to-back bogeys while Fitzpatrick couldn't manage better than a couple of pars. "Those are two of the guys that you want to play with". Coughlin closed birdie-eagle, and Granada birdied the final two.

Molinari surges to win Arnold Palmer Invitational

The 24-year-old, from Northamptonshire, went into day four tied at the top of the leaderboard with Lynn Carlsson before carding a closing 69 to finish 12 under par. He then faced a nervous wait as the final groups finished up but nobody could catch him, with countrymen Christiaan Bezuidenhout, George Coetzee and Erik van Rooyen, Span's Jorge Campillo and Nacho Elvira, Swede Anton Karlsson, Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera, England's Oliver Wilson and Choi in a European Tour record nine way tie for second.

When he won last July at Carnoustie, Molinari had to sit 30 minutes before finding out he had won his first major championship. He becomes the fifth South African victor of this event after Darren Fichardt, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Branden Grace.

"Probably my best putting round ever, " Molinari said of his third win in his past 12 PGA Tour starts.

"I need to say thank you to the Callaway team because they fit it into the, fitted me into the new clubs very smoothly and it's been a very easy transition".

"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". "I think obviously confidence has to do a lot with it".

"I'm getting myself into contention every week, continue to do that, going into next week", he said. It gave him a two-shot lead at 12-under 276, and no one got closer the rest of the way.

Only three of his eight birdie putts were inside 10 feet. Finding the greenside rough on No. 8, he took the 45-foot pitch and buried it in the bottom of the cup, moving to four-under for the round. It turned out to be too much for anyone to catch him.

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