Molinari charges to title at Arnie's place

Florence Fletcher
March 12, 2019

The Arnold Palmer Invitational once again delivered 72nd-hole dramatics, only this time they came more than two hours early Sunday at Bay Hill.

McIlroy started the back nine with five straight pars but put in a storming finish with three birdies over the final four holes, his 66 taking him into a two-shot clubhouse lead over Chris Kirk (66) and Luke List (68).

"It was just nice to have a day like that and just constantly feel at ease really with hitting good golf shots", he said.

The new Rules of Golf allow the flag to be left in for putts in the green, and most players leave it there on long putts. "I've seen so many putts on TV like that and to do it yourself it's really wonderful".

But Rory seemingly took to the game immediately, as cites that the young golfer was able to hit a 40-yard drive by the time he was just two-years-old. "But obviously, when you get it done, then at the end it's a great feeling". Molinari's was longer than anything Woods ever made, from a slightly different angle.

In windy conditions throughout the week, Wilson had managed two flawless rounds before making a bogey on the par-4 fifth hole on Saturday in a round that also included four birdies.

"I've had to tell myself [to have] patience at times, " McIlroy said. "I guess I've become a lot more comfortable with the fact I'm going to fail more times than I succeed at that certain conquest or whatever you want to call it". He had gone out on a tough day and performed at a level no one came close to matching.

"I'm getting myself into contention every week, continue to do that, going into next week", he said. "I took a longer break after past year. So, no, I'm happy with everything".

"I probably played too safe", the young Englishman said. "So it's still a bit unreal to think that I've done kind of the same today".

Sungjae Im, Tommy Fleetwood and Rafa Cabrera Bello finished in a three-way tied for third at nine under.

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Six players were tied for third at five-under, including the victor of last week's Honda Classic, Keith Mitchell (68).

Canada's Roger Sloan shot a one-under 71 and finished the week at four under and tied for 23rd. The two will play together in the final pairing on Sunday.

Heading into the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational, McIlroy had tallied 14 career victories.

It all added up to 64, the same number Molinari shot Sunday.

"It's phenomenal", Fitzpatrick said of Molinari's round. But the greens are so pure, if you start putts on line they have a good chance to go in.

Bradley didn't have a par until the sixth hole, and only one of those was a birdie. Then things went really bad.

When he won last July at Carnoustie, Molinari had to sit 30 minutes before finding out he had won his first major championship.

On the Symetra Tour, Cavan's Leona Maguire closed with a one-over 73 in the SkyiGolf Championship at Charlotte Harbor National Golf Club to finish tied for 25th on three-under par.

Notes: Tiger Woods withdrew from the tournament with a neck strain he says has been bothering him for a few weeks.

For Sam Saunders, it's a great week to be Arnie's grandson but a tough week to try to win a golf tournament. Check in for highlights from every tournament plus player interviews, player profiles, tournament previews, swing analysis and all the greatest shots and wonderful moments. He had never made the cut here, but this year received a pep talk from his wife. He missed the fairway on No. 1 (bogey), hit into a bunker on No. 2 (bogey), three-putted for bogey on No. 3 and had another bogey from the bunker on No. 5. Singh qualified by winning last year's Bridgestone Senior Players championship ...

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