Home player Francesco Molinari came through a tense final round duel with Danny Willett to delight the home fans and win the Italian Open for a second time.
Italy’s Francesco Molinari closed with a 65 to finish one shot clear of England’s Danny Willett in the 2016 Italian Open. The pair began the final round tied on 16-under-par but Molinari opened a two-shot lead after an eagle on the 1st hole.
Further gains on the 2nd, 6th and 9th holes saw Molinari turn in 31 and hold a three-shot lead. The Italian then moved four clear with another birdie on the 11th.
It looked like being a procession down the home stretch for the Italian, but Willett wasn’t finished. The Masters champion reduced the deficit to two at the very next hole, making a birdie against a dropped shot from Molinari.
An eagle at the 14th by Willett cut Molinari’s advantage to just one and that was how it remained when the pair reached the final tee.
Molinari looked to be in trouble as he found the trees with his drive, but he played a superb escape shot to the front of the green. Although he left his approach putt short, he holed out for par to claim a historic win.
3 Talking points from the Italian Open
1 – Francesco Molinari is the first Italian player to win the Italian Open on two occasions. He took the title back in 2006. He is also the second player to win his home event in the last two weeks, after Joost Luiten won the KLM Open in Holland. Following the round in Monza, Molinari admitted the final day had been draining.
“It’s been a rollercoaster,” he said. “It’s amazing to see this amount of people out here supporting me. I had the ideal start, I couldn’t start any better. When I birdied 12 I got four shots clear and thought maybe I could relax a bit and I got punished straight away. Coming in I had nothing left, I was just playing with my soul.”
2 – It was a decent week for six of the seven European Ryder Cup players competing in Monza. Willett was runner-up and looked back to his best. Rafa Cabrera Bello produced a solid performance to finish in a tie for 12th, Matt Fitzpatrick was tied 15th, Martin Kaymer, Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood tied for 20th. It wasn’t such a good week for Lee Westwood. He missed the cut by a shot.
Rafa Cabrera Bello Swing Sequence:
3 – Chris Paisley of England recorded an important tied third place finish. He picked up €168,900 for his efforts which boosted his 2016 earnings to €337,610. That has pushed him into 72nd place on the Race to Dubai standings and has secured his playing rights for 2017.
Golf Club Milano, Monza, Italy
Purse €3,000,000, par 71
1 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 65 68 64 65 262 €500,000
2 Danny Willett (Eng) 66 64 67 66 263 €333,330
T3 Nacho Elvira (Esp) 67 66 68 65 266 €168,900
T3 Chris Paisley (Eng) 66 63 69 68 266 €168,900
T5 Richard Bland (Eng) 67 67 65 69 268 €116,100
T5 David Horsey (Eng) 67 67 69 65 268 €116,100
T7 Jorge Campillo (Esp) 68 68 66 67 269 €69,480
T7 Alejandro Canizares (Esp) 67 67 66 69 269 €69,480
T7 Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 68 71 66 64 269 €69,480
T7 Scott Jamieson (Sco) 65 71 66 67 269 €69,480
T7 Alexander Levy (Fra) 68 67 63 71 269 €69,480
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage