Italian Francesco Molinari climbed over 16 spots on the final day of Arnold Palmer Invitational with his spectacular 64, consisting of eight birdies coming equally (four each) on the front nine and the back nine to help him clinch his third PGA TOUR title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
The defending champion Rory McIlroy who has been winless since his triumph last year entered the final round just a shot behind the English Matthew Fitzpatrick, who finished solo second with a final round of 1-under 71. The Irishman shot a final round of 72, similar to his opening round to finish T-6 with last week’s winner Keith Mitchell, Sung Kang and Matt Wallace.
The Italian now has three PGA TOUR wins in his last 12 TOUR starts and rocketed from 151st to 20th in the FedExCup and to seventh in the world rankings.
“I tried to be aggressive from the start and it was nice to see quite a lot of putts dropping … especially for my standards,” Molinari said.
“I think it’s been the best putting round ever in my career. And it’s nice to do it, obviously in those circumstances, at Arnie’s place.
“And I don’t know, there must be something going on with that line (on 18), because it seems that a lot of guys winning the tournament make that putt.”
A year ago it was Rory McIlroy shooting 8 under on Sunday to win. He had a chance to go back-to-back having started just one off the lead but faded to a T6 finish.
He joins Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Gary Woodland with the most final rounds (four) of 64 or better on the PGA TOUR since the start of the 2016-17 season.
“I know that I can shoot low scores pretty much on every golf course … I’m not scared to say that, or I’m not shy of confidence in that way,” Molinari added.
“It’s never easy, but I think what makes the difference is my mental approach is a lot better than what it was three, four years ago and I practice at home to do this sort of stuff in tournaments.”