PGA Tour

Molinari ends Italian PGA drought with National victory

2018-07-02 06:38
Francesco Molinari (Getty)

Potomac - Francesco Molinari became the first Italian in 71 years to win a US PGA event, firing an eight-under-par 62 on Sunday to capture the Quicken Loans National while Tiger Woods settled for sharing fourth. 

Molinari, a runner-up at last year's PGA Championship for his best major showing, eagled the 10th hole and followed with four consecutive birdies on his way to finishing 72 holes on 21-under 259 at TPC Potomac. 

"Amazing. I played great today," Molinari said. "The start of the back nine was incredible." 

The 35-year-old from Turin became the first Italian to win a US PGA event since the late Toney Penna took the 1947 Atlanta Open. 

Molinari matched the 18-hole course record with the lowest final round by a US PGA winner this season, his career low on the American tour by two shots. 

The European Ryder Cup veteran skipped this week's event at Le Golf National, where this year's Cup will be played in September, for a 121st US PGA start on a course he said suited his game perfectly. 

"It was not easy to skip the French Open," Molinari said. "But I think I made the right decision." 

American Ryan Armour was second on 267, one stroke ahead of South Korea's Kang Sung with Woods next on 269, one ahead of Americans Bronson Burgoon and Beau Hossler. 

Ancer, Kang, Armour and Burgoon claimed fourth British Open berths on offer to top finishers. The year's third major showdown starts July 19 at Carnoustie. 

Tournament host Woods, chasing his first victory since 2013, fired a 66 to finish 10 shots back, sinking six birdies but foiled by two back-nine bogeys and missed opportunities. 

"I'm glad I gave myself a chance," Woods said. "It was nice to make a couple birdies coming in. Evidentally I'd have had to shoot 24 on the back nine. What Francesco is doing out there is phenomenal." 

Woods, playing his 11th US PGA event in a comeback from spinal fusion surgery, has not won a title since the 2013 WGC Bridgestone Invitational. 

Woods produced the second-best finish of his comeback, having shared second at the Valspar in March, in his first week with a new mallet putter that paid dividends. 

"This is the week where I turned it around," Woods said. 

The 14-time major winner will not play again until the British Open, where he hopes to crack the world rankings top-50 and earn a spot in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational ahead of next month's 100th PGA Championship. 

Molinari, who won his fifth European Tour crown last month at Wentworth, became the sixth European player to win a US PGA event this year. 

When co-leader Ancer opened with a bogey, finding sand with his first two shots, Molinari took the lead for good. 

Molinari blasted out of a bunker to three feet at the par-5 second and sank his birdie putt and added a 12-foot birdie at the par-4 sixth to stretch his lead to three shots. 

Molinari began the back nine by rolling in a 48-foot eagle putt, then began his birdie run. 

The Italian stopped his approach inches from the cup for a tap-in at 11, sank a seven-foot putt at the par-3 12th and a 12-footer at 13 then drove into a greenside bunker and blasted to two feet to set up another birdie. 

Woods began six adrift and birdied the par-5 second, blasting from deep left weeds to three feet and making the putt. 

Woods dropped a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-4 seventh, then curled in a 28-footer for birdie at the par-4 eighth. 

The fightback fizzled when Woods missed a six-foot birdie putt at the par-5 10th, then missed the green on his approach and made bogey at 11. 

Woods, 42, sank an eight-foot birdie putt at the 12th but found deep rough and a greenside bunker on his way to bogey at 13 and rolled a 3-foot birdie putt around the cup and out to par the 14th. 

He sank an eight-foot birdie at 15 and a 14-footer at the 16th, but it was too little too late.

Leading scores after Sunday's final round of the US PGA Quicken Loans National (par-70, USA unless noted):

259 - Francesco Molinari (ITA) 67-65-65-62

267 - Ryan Armour 66-65-68-68

268 - Kang Sung (KOR) 72-64-68-64

269 - Tiger Woods 70-65-68-66, Abraham Ancer (MEX) 65-70-62-72

270 - Bronson Burgoon 68-70-65-67, Beau Hossler 65-66-71-68

271 - Ryan Palmer 70-67-67-67, Brian Gay 67-64-72-68, Chesson Hadley 71-64-68-68, Andrew Landry 63-72-65-71

272 - Rickie Fowler 70-66-69-67

273 - Anirban Lahiri (IND) 67-74-65-67, Stephan Jaeger (GER) 67-73-65-68, Ben Crane 70-68-66-69, Marc Leishman (AUS) 67-67-69-70

274 - Billy Horschel 64-68-75-67, Joaquin Niemann (CHI) 68-67-74-65, Charles Howell 70-67-70-67, Dylan Meyer 70-67-70-67, Troy Merritt 68-68-66-72, CT Pan (TPE) 67-67-68-72

275 - Ted Potter 72-66-68-69, Stewart Cink 68-69-69-69, Joel Dahmen 66-69-69-71, Ryan Blaum 67-72-64-72

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