Francesco Molinari made a move toward the top of the Official World Golf Ranking following his two-shot win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Molinari's was longer than anything Woods ever made, from a slightly different angle. And while it capped off an 8-under 64 and eventually gave Molinari a two-shot victory, the British Open champion had to wait almost two hours to see if his score would hold up.
"I said this after I won the Open Championship past year, I didn't enjoy it - that half an hour - at all and I didn't enjoy today at all watching the other guys", he said. It's easier to keep some sort of control when you're hitting the shots.
Fitzpatrick had never finished better than tied 7th in 48 previous starts on the PGA Tour, so to claim second spot following a final-round 71 was a huge step forward. "But he played very, very well to shoot that, and hat's off to him". But no one got closer than two shots by day's end while Molinari waited patiently in the clubhouse for his cardigan fitting. Vijay Singh will be teeing it up with the kids for the third time in four weeks at the Players Championship.
"I find it a lot more nerve-wracking sitting there than being out there playing. So good golf is good golf". Sure, it was always going to be hard to deflect the fire Molinari was spewing, but at what point in a long series of "what are you going to do about that other guy having a career day?" do you start asking, "Why isn't Rory ever that other guy?" 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.
Rickie Fowler (T40): Fowler finally had it cruising in the proper direction on Sunday afternoon before he was upended by a double bogey and a bogey late in the day to drop out of the top 25.
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.
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.
McIlroy, in yet another in a series of disappointing final rounds in which he's come up short while in contention, shot even par Sunday and finished at 8-under, along with Mitchell, last week's Honda Classic victor, Wallace and Kang.
Rafael Cabrera Bello went from 34th to 30th with his share of third place, while the same result vaulted Sungjae Im from 88th to 71st.
"I hope he is looking at us and is proud of what we managed to do", said Molinari referring to Palmer, who died in 2016, after Sunday's win.
We really knew something special was going on by the time Molinari made the turn. "I saw the course got firm and fast". If you were wondering how on earth Molinari would come up with an encore following his three victories worldwide last season and heroics in Paris, wonder no more.
Harding was three shots off the lead at the start of the day and although he birdied three of the first four holes, bogeys at the sixth and seventh looked to have derailed his title challenge.
"It's a pretty iconic putt, " Molinari said. "He's obviously holed a lot of putts to do that because you can't get close to these pins". When I won past year, playing with Rory in the last few groups, it wasn't easy at all. "So from there I started building my confidence and just saying I could get it done".
Molinari closed with a 62 to blow away the field in the Quicken Loans National.
In October, Molinari became the first European to go 5-0 in the Ryder Cup during his team's rout of the Americans in Paris. And he delivered a masterpiece at Arnie's place.
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