Francesco Molinari storms in to win Arnold Palmer Invitational with ‘best putting round of my life’ 

Francesco Molinari storms in to win Arnold Palmer Invitational with 'best putting round of my life' 

As Rory McIlroy suffered yet another Sunday let-down, Francesco Molinari won his first title since the Open Championship last July courtesy of a brilliant round of eight-under at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Starting five off the pace, the Italian displayed all the class he showed at Carnoustie – and, indeed, at the Ryder Cup two months later when becoming the first European to win all five matches – to leap from 17th to 12-under for a two-shot victory.

Matt Fitzpatrick, the 24-year-old who led overnight, came second after a 71 for his best finish on the PGA Tour, with fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood in a tie for third following 68. Like everyone, they had to bow to the Molinari mastery, as he matched McIlroy’s closing 64 of a year ago.

“That was probably the best putting round of my life,” Molinari said, after holing a 45-footer on the famous 18th green. “They say the next win after your first major is important and this feels great.”

For McIlroy it was a familiar feeling. There he was in the final pairing of a big event and there he was again falling short. This was the ninth consecutive time the 29-year-old had been in the marquee group and not prevailed and as the defending champion it means his winless run stretches more than a year.

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