Francesco Molinari fired a superb closing round of 64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge by a single shot from Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Francesco Molinari wins Arnold Palmer Invitational
Francesco Molinari of Italy topped a truly international leaderboard at Bay Hill. He won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in fine style, with three Englishmen, a Spaniard, a Northern Irishman and two South Koreans all within the top-10.
Molinari began the final round at Bay Hill five shots off the lead held by Matthew Fitzpatrick but, when he rattled a birdie putt in off the pin on the 72nd green for a superb closing 64, he knew he had a great chance of securing the win. The Italian’s eight-under-par closing round gave him a four-round total of 12-under-par. Although he finished some two hours before the leading groups, none of them would get closer than within two shots of the mark set by the 2018 Open Champion. He won for a fourth time in the last nine months and for the first time since signing an equipment deal with Callaway.
“To do it here at Arnie’s place, knowing my wife and kids are watching from home, it’s very special,” Molinari said. “I was just trying to hit good shots, give myself chances,” he continued. “I knew it was not going to be easy. The course was firm and fast yesterday and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy for the guys in the lead, so I thought there was an outside chance. And yeah, just started making putts, one of my best putting rounds ever… I got everything out of it today.”
Matthew Fitzpatrick began the final round one ahead, but he could only card two birdies on Sunday and in the end a round of 71 gave him solo second spot. Rory McIlroy had a disappointing final round – he could only manage a level-par 72 and ended the week in a tie for sixth.
Rafa Cabrera Bello and Tommy Fleetwood ended the week tied for third with Sungjae Im of South Korea. The Spaniard and the Englishman were both left to rue one poor round during the week. Cabrera Bello faltered to a 75 on Friday while Fleetwood, who led through 36 holes, suffered a 76 on Saturday.
Another Englishman, Matt Wallace finished tied for sixth and that made it three English players in the top-10.
Another prize was up for grabs at Bay Hill with three places in the Open Championship at Royal Portrush on offer. The spots went to Sungjae Im, Keith Mitchell and Sung Kang, who holed for par from 12 feet on the last hole to secure his place.
Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard
Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Florida
Purse: $9,100,000 Par: 72
1 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 69 70 73 64 276 $1,638,000
2 Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 70 70 67 71 278 $982,800
T3 Rafa Cabrera Bello (Esp) 65 75 70 69 279 $473,200
T3 Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 69 66 76 68 279 $473,200
T3 Sungjae Im (Kor) 71 69 71 68 279 $473,200
T6 Sung Kang (Kor) 69 72 71 68 280 $294,612
T6 Rory McIlroy (NIR) 72 70 66 72 280 $294,612
T6 Keith Mitchell (USA) 71 68 75 66 280 $294,612
T6 Matt Wallace (Eng) 71 69 69 71 280 $294,612
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage