Molinari surges to win Arnold Palmer Invitational
Francesco Molinari fired an impressive eight-under 64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational by two strokes on Sunday.
The Italian was bogey-free during the final round at Bay Hill, finishing at 12 under to win ahead of Matt Fitzpatrick (71).
Molinari had four birdies on the front nine and four more after the turn, including a 44-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that sealed his third PGA Tour victory.
He carded a 64 to finish just one stroke shy of the final-round record (63), which was set by Gary Koch in 1984.
"I don't know, I'm just super glad," Molinari said after his round, via Golf Digest. "First week as a Callaway player, so happy to see that the switch I made wasn't as crazy as some people thought. The clubs are good for me and I showed it this week.
"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."
Defending champion Rory McIlroy, who had moved into contention, could only manage an even-par 72 to end up tied for sixth at eight under.
Molinari had to enter the clubhouse with his two-stroke lead while contenders were still well into their rounds.
But, even he could feel this one was different. Molinari said it was his "best putting round ever".
"It's high up there with the best wins I've had," he added. "[Arnold Palmer] was a special player but most of all a special person and a global icon for the game. For someone like me coming from Italy, he and Jack [Nicklaus] were up there as Gods, so to win here is truly special."
After a birdie on the par-five 16th hole, Fitzpatrick parred his final two holes to get his best finish on Tour. He had a round of one-under 71 to finish 10 under for the tournament.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello (69) ended the tournament in a three-way tie for third place, alongside Tommy Fleetwood (68) and Im Sung-jae (68) at nine under.