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By : BGA Proshop
This week was more about the late champion and tournament name sake, Arnold Palmer than the tournament itself. Players in the field paid tribute to the legend with Palmer’s famous logo worn on footwear, apparel and caps. It was a great site to see so many players embrace this and carry on the tradition.
But there was still a golf tournament to be won and winner’s cheque of $1.6 million USD was waiting.
In the end Francesco Molinari played an awesome final round to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. What he managed to do around a tough course was amazing and you need to watch the highlight below.
Starting 5 strokes back from the leaders, Molinari birdied 2 of his first 3 holes to close the gap. When he was at the turn he had almost caught the leaders at 9-under, who were yet to tee off and Molinari was at 8 under.
After pouring in another birdie on 12 and 13 he had not missed a putt inside 15 feet and was the co leader.
On 16 he took the solo lead with another birdie and was at 11 under for the tournament.
The best was saved till last as Molinari drained a 43 foot birdie putt to take a two shot lead closing with a 64 for the round.
“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.”
Mean while the chasing pack failed to make up any ground on the winner. Overnight leader Matt Fitzpatrick (71) finished two back and Rory McIlroy shot a closing round 8 under last year faded this year with 72 and finished T6.
After the round, Molinari said it was certainly fitting for the event to be won in a way Arnold would likely have been satisfied with.
“It's always a pleasure for us to come back here to his place, it was obviously even better when he was around, but even now you can feel his presence and, yeah, hopefully he saw Rory last year and he saw me this year and he's proud of what we did out there,” Molinari said.
“Coming from Italy, we weren't exposed to that much golf, but obviously Arnie was such a global icon and this tournament was one that we watched, my brother and myself, at home many times.
“Watching Tiger making that putt on 18 ... So it's still a bit unreal to think that I've done kind of the same today.”
He joins Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka 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.”
Next is The Players Championship at Ponte Vedra Beach as he tries to become the first Italian to win the famous tournament.
“THE PLAYERS next week is one of those weeks that you circle in the calendar at the beginning of the year,” Molinari said.
“I had quite a long off season, but I was hoping to hit form around THE PLAYERS and things have gone even better than I thought.”