Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Molinari wins Quicken Loans National after back-nine blitz

Tiger Woods Tiger Woods
Sidney Guerrero | 03 July, 2018, 03:32

Francesco Molinari delivered a record performance Sunday to win the Quicken Loans National.

He continued to home in on the pins with his approach shots as he set off on the back nine, but missed birdie putts from inside 10 feet at the 10th and 11th holes took the wind out of his sails.

Tournament host Tiger Woods inched closer to a long-overdue first victory, shooting a closing 66 that included six birdies to share fourth place on 11-under par.

The victory lifted him to 42 in the FedEx Cup ranking and puts him on course to qualify for the Tour Championship, which he narrowly missed a year ago.

Woods will now spend time preparing for the challenge of one of the toughest links courses in the world, where extreme winds caused havoc among the world's best players when the 42-year-old first played The Open at Carnousite in 1999.

"It's fantastic to win a tournament hosted by Tiger, probably the greatest ever to play the game", said Molinari, 35, who's ranked 17th in the world.

Woods made 21 birdies in the final edition of the Quicken Loans National on a course that was tougher than he realized, just the way he likes it.

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One of the more telling moments came Saturday, when he finished the front nine with seven consecutive one-putt greens, including four straight birdies, and then a 25-foot birdie on No. 9 to head to the back nine just two shots off the lead. All the same, the $1.278 million winner's check comes close to doubling what he had won on Tour this year so far.

Absolutely. Through four holes on Sunday, Woods (-8) is tied for 10th place and just five strokes back of co-leaders Abraham Ancer and Francesco Molinari (-13).

Molinari matched the 18-hole course record with the lowest final round by a US PGA victor this season, his career low on the American tour by two shots. "The start of the back nine was incredible". He switched to his current putter before the Players Championship in May ahead of winning the European Tour's flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth a few weeks later. He did post a top-20 finish at the Masters this season, and tied for second at the 2017 PGA Championship, so it is not as if Molinari came out of nowhere to win this event. Probably some of the best golf I've ever played and I'll ever play in the future.

"Amazing, amazing. I still haven't realized what happened today", he said afterwards. He moved to 42nd in the FedEx Cup standings with his win.

"Well, I think the last two days playing [holes] 13, 14 the way I did". Sung Kang of South Korea fashioned a 64 earlier in the day and finished alone in third at 12 under. Even my bad putts this week still had the go-in look.

"I'm seeing the lines again, I'm rolling the ball on my line, I've got the speed and I really like the swing of this putter", Woods said.

Molinari signed with Bettinardi at the start of the year and has worked closely with famed putter maker Robert Bettinardi to create the best model for his game. Angel Cabrera, the 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters champion, won this event in 2014.

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