Golf highlights: Francesco Molinari shoots final-round 64 in march to Arnold Palmer Invitational glory

 - USA TODAY Sports
- USA TODAY Sports

Francesco Molinari produced a stunning final-round 64 to claim the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida.

The Italian began the day five shots behind fellow Europeans Matthew Fitzpatrick and Rory McIlroy, but the reigning Open champion charged up the leaderboard thanks to a flawless eight-under-par round and set the daunting clubhouse target of 12 under.

However, it proved to be too much for the chasing pack as Fitzpatrick finished two shots further back in outright second, while fellow Englishman and Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood, who led at the halfway stage, and Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello were in a tie for third at nine under.

Speaking after the win, Molinari said: "I tried to be aggressive from the start and it was nice to see quite a lot of putts dropping... especially for my standards.

"I think it's been the best putting round ever in my career. And it's nice to do it, obviously in those circumstances, at Arnie's place.

"And I don't know, there must be something going on with that line (on 18), because it seems that a lot of guys winning the tournament make that putt."

The field had no answer to the Italian's immaculate putting on day four - Credit: GETTY IMAGES
The field had no answer to the Italian's immaculate putting on day four Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Matt Wallace was one shot further adrift alongside McIlroy as European players dominated the final standings at Bay Hill.

An opening birdie got Molinari's charge under way before he registered another gain at the third when he dialled in his approach to seven feet to move to six under par.

He improved to seven under with a birdie at the sixth and reached the turn in 32 courtesy of a stunning chip in from the rough at the eighth.

Molinari's birdie trail continued at the 12th and 13th to move alongside Fitzpatrick at the top of the leaderboard. He got on the par-five 16th in two before two putts helped him take the outright lead at 11 under and he sealed his round with a monster 44-foot birdie putt at the last to extend his advantage as the anxious wait for victory began.

The Italian briefly moved into a three-shot lead when Fitzpatrick bogeyed at the 15th after finding a fairway bunker with his second shot to cancel out his birdie at the fourth, only to pick up a shot at the 16th and claim second place.

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