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Sunday's golf roundup: Molinari wins Arnold Palmer Invitational

Sunday's golf roundup: Molinari wins Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational victor Francesco Molinari hopes his rapid ascension to the top ranks in world golf inspires a generation of golfers in his native Italy.

Open champion Francesco Molinari produced a stunning final-round 64 to claim the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida.

The British Open champion enjoyed his "best putting day ever" which he capped off by sinking a 45-foot birdie at the hard par-four 18th at Bay Hill in Orlando.

"I would much rather be putting myself in position to have a chance to win", McIlroy said at Bay Hill on Sunday after carding a level-par 72 to finish tied for sixth, four strokes behind Molinari, who shot a remarkable 64 to win the tournament by two strokes. But the reigning British Open champion got off to an ideal start, making four birdies on the front nine to turn in 32 and put himself square in contention.

The Italian capped his round by holing from 44 feet at the 18th to finish on 12-under 276, a clubhouse target which proved beyond the later starters.

"I find it a lot more nerve-wracking sitting there than being out there playing". "It was really awesome to see".

Molinari started the day five behind 54-hole leader Matthew Fitzpatrick, who finished second at 10 under. He would bogey his final hole to finish the week at two under, having given four shots back over the last two holes.

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.

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"I'm just super glad", Molinari said.

"It's great, to do it here, to get it done here at this place knowing that my wife and the kids were watching back home, it's just a special, special one". "It's a special, special one". "Being around Tiger and Arnie, two of the greatest guys to ever play the game, kind of a special hour or so that we all got to hang out and spend together". "He and Jack (Nicklaus) were up there with the gods".

Francesco Molinari hits his tee shot on the 14 hole during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill Club & Lodge. 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. That will get him into the WGC-Match Play in three weeks, boosting his bid to get into the top 50 by April for an invitation to the Masters.

Asked what had elevated his game over the past year, he said confidence had a lot to do with it.

"I was the first to make it with the flag in", Molinari said with a big smile, alluding to a new rule that allows the flag stick to stay in the cup with putts on the green.

"I just went to the locker room and watched the golf, " Molinari said.

It's safe to say that Molinari did just that on Sunday, and he did Mr. Palmer proud. When I won a year ago, playing with Rory in the last few groups, it wasn't easy at all.