Francesco Molinari played the golf game of his professional life. And is he every happy. The incredible start to his back nine will be talked about in clubhouses for a long, long, time.
And incredible it was. Molinari started the back nine by draining a 50-foot eagle putt and from then on, never looked back. Not only did he finish 21 under with a score of 259 to win the final Quicken-Loans National, his eight-shot victory matched the best margin on this year’s PGA Tour.
Following his eagle to open the back nine, on 11 his approach shot stopped 2 feet from the cup for a pretty tap in. No easy feat to achieve when you consider this par four is one of the most difficult on the tour with just one other final round birdie.
After three more birdies, his day ended by missing an 8-foot birdie putt. Still, at 21 under and 259 for the final Quicken-Loans National, there was plenty of reason for Molinari to smile. His only previous win was the H.S.B.C Champions, World Golf-Championship held in Shanghai back in 2010.
Unfortunately, that win was not recognized because at that point Molinari was not a tour member. Much like his recent victory here, his play in Shanghai was the same. A complete tee to green mastery of shots and a really hot putter.
Fan favorite Tiger Woods, 4 back at the turn, though he might have a chance for a miracle finish. But the leaderboard doesn’t lie and after Molinari’s eagle and 4 birdies, Tiger could only take solace in his final round 66. His best in some time indicating he’s getting more like the Tiger of old. That would be really good for Golf.
Playing with Tiger for the first time was also good for Bronson Burgoon. With an adoring crowd, following Tiger, Burgoon was reported to say he’s never seen anything like it. Even with large crowds, and more noise than he had ever experienced in his life, Bronson shot a final round 67. That score tied him for sixth place and earned him his first trip to the British Open.
For Woods, his play came undone early on the back nine. On 10, his wedge shot landed 6 feet from the cup. Up until then a couple of birdies on the front nine buoyed his chance of making a charge.
He missed his 6-foot putt, missed the 13th fairway, taking a bogey, and on 14 missed a 3-foot birdie putt. Later on, in a media scrum, he realized playing the way he did on the back nine, would not win him any golf tournaments.
But back to Molinari and his record runaway victory. Living on the edge for Ryder Cup qualifying, the Italian’s decision to stay in the US was a good one. His plan was to play the Quicken-Loans National, and then two weeks later, the John-Deere Classic. Strong finishes would improve his standing and improve it has with his Quicken win, and one more tournament to go.
With his second PGA victory, Molinari gets a 2-year exemption and also moves him up to number 42 from 123 in the FedEx Cup rankings. Another reason to smile.
When asked at the presser if he made the right decision to skip Paris and the French Open, to stay and play in the US, his winning smile said it all.