Monday, September 19
Francesco Molinari Claims Historic Victory at Italian Open
By Brian Keogh
Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.
FRANCESCO MOLINARI HELD HIS NERVE in a titanic final day duel with Danny Willett to claim a historic victory at the Italian Open. He recorded a closing 65 to get to 22 under and beat Willett by one shot, so becoming the first Italian to win his national Open twice since the event became part of the European Tour in 1972.
The 2006 champion also became the first Italian to win any European Tour event twice, as he claimed his fourth win and his first since the 2012 Open de España.
Followed by an enormous gallery, he turned in 31 and held a four-shot lead with six holes to play; but Masters Tournament winner Willett is nothing if not resilient, following up a birdie on the 13th hole with an eagle on the next to cut the gap to one shot.
There were nervy moments from both players in the closing stretch, and Molinari was forced to produce a miraculous recovery shot from the trees after pushing his drive right from the 18th tee.
When Willett holed for par from 12 feet on the 18th green to sign for a round of 66, Molinari needed to follow him in from three feet and duly did so to become the second home player to win his national Open in as many weeks, following Joost Luiten's victory at the KLM Open.
Spaniard Nacho Elvira and England's Chris Paisley both secured their European Tour cards after finishing in a tie for third place on 18 under par, courtesy of respective rounds of 65 and 68.
Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.