Quicken Loans National: Francesco Molinari claims title

Golf
Francesco Molinari celebrates his first PGA Tour victory
Francesco Molinari celebrates his first PGA Tour victory

Francesco Molinari won his first PGA Tour title with a convincing eight-shot victory at the Quicken Loans National in Maryland.

Leaderboard

-21 Francesco Molinari

-13 Ryan Armour

-12 Sung Kang

-11 Tiger Woods, Abraham Ancer

Final report report

Francesco Molinari won his first PGA Tour title with a convincing eight-shot victory at the Quicken Loans National in Maryland.

The 35-year-old entered the final day level at 13 under with Mexican Abraham Ancer, but two birdies on the front nine saw him pull away from the joint overnight leader.

He then went on a stunning run after the turn, with a 50ft eagle on the par-five ninth sparking him to pick up six shots in five holes before parring his way home for a 62.

The victory is the Italian's first in the United States and further increases his chances making a third Ryder Cup appearance in September. Immediately after the 2016 event he was 9/4 with Sky Bet to make the European Team in France, a price that remained unchanged until his solid form of this year. He is now fourth in the standings and 40/1 with the same firm to win the Open Championship later this month

Speaking of moving into 42nd in the FedEx Cup standings after the victory, he told a press conference streamed on the PGA Tour's Twitter page: "I came here obviously because I was right on the bubble in the FedEx and I wanted to gain a better position, so I guess job done."

He added: "It was (a big risk), but the risk on the other side was I was 123rd on the FedEx Cup. When you play two tours, you need to balance the two things. It wasn't an easy decision, I thought until the last minute whether to go to France or to come here but seems like it was the right choice in the end."

Molinari finished at 21 under, eight shots clear of American Ryan Armour and 10 ahead of Tiger Woods.

The 14-time major winner fired a closing 66 to record his third top 10 in 11 events this season since returning from injury.

Third round report

Tiger Woods could not match the pace of the front-runners on day three of the Quicken Loans National as he slipped six shots off the pace in Potomac, Maryland.

The former world number one recorded a two-under 68 that moved him to seven under par for the tournament, but Mexican Abraham Ancer and Italian Francesco Molinari (6/5 favourite) left him trailing.

Ancer posted a sparkling 62 and Molinari shot a 65 as both men reached 13 under, tying for the lead two shots in front of Americans Zac Blair and Ryan Armour.

There might have been a better outcome for Woods, who made five birdies in six holes from the fourth to the ninth. His round was peppered elsewhere with dropped shots, however, and when the 42-year-old made his fourth bogey of the day at the 18th it might effectively have ended his title hopes.

Blair's 66 and Armour's 68 kept them in the hunt, with Ryan Landry one shot further back on 10 under after a 65, and another American, Kevin Streelman, making a 67 to sit nine under.

Woods felt his own play was generally positive, with a handful of missed opportunities costing him.

"I had some birdie opportunities on the back nine, didn't make them, made a couple bogeys there too," Woods said, in a video released by the PGA Tour.

"It was frustrating because I thought 10 under would have been a good score for me to end at for the day and I could easily have got that on the back nine."

Looking ahead to Sunday's final round, he expressed hope that the course would be dry and added: "I'm going have to shoot a low round to give myself a chance."

Second round report

Tiger Woods is 12/1 with Sky Bet to win the Quicken Loans National after moving into contention at the halfway stage.

He fired a five-under par 65 for a share of 11th place at five-under par, four adrift of the leaders Beau Hossler, Ryan Armour and Brian Gay.

Hossler followed up his first-round 65 with a 66, dropping shots on the first and 13th holes, only to recover with back-to-back birdies through holes 14 to 15 and 17 to 18. He is 5/1 with the Leeds-based firm.

Armour (12/1) fired a blemish-free second-round 65, while American Gay(7/1) joined his countrymen on nine-under overall after shooting a round of 64 which included five birdies on the front nine.

Italian Francesco Molinari, who is fighting for a place in Europe's Ryder Cup team after an excellent run of form, is one shot back after a second-round 65 and is now 9/2 favourite with Sky Bet.

Scotland's Martin Laird will not play into the weekend after rounds of 70 and 72 put him on two over, one shot past the cut, while Seamus Power sits on four-under and tied for 20th.

First round report

Andrew Landry and JJ Spaun set the pace in the opening round of the Quicken Loans National, carding bogey-free rounds of 63.

Starting on the back nine, Landry made up for a poor round of 81 at last week's Travelers Championship to finish on seven under. He was quickly matched by compatriot Spaun, who rattled off five birdies in a seven-hole stretch. Billy Horschel and Andrew Putnam made up the chasing pack just one shot behind, while Abraham Ancer and Beau Hossler ended on five under.

Laundry and Horschel are 10/1 joint-favourites with Sky Bet ahead of Hossler and Francesco Molinari, who is four off the pace, at 11/1.

It was an encouraging start for Ben Coley's 80/1 selection Anirban who is tied tenth after firing a three-under 67. He's now 40/1 with Sky Bet.

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, had a disappointing start to the tournament as he was forced to settle for an even-par 70, putting him at joint 48th. Two birdies helped him recover from a double bogey on the par-4 sixth hole, but he failed to take advantage of several chances despite using a new putter and remained seven shots adrift.

Woods is still attempting to put together the consistency in his game seven months into his comeback from a chronic back injury that required spinal fusion surgery last April. Last year's Quicken Loans National winner Kyle Stanley could only manage one over par to languish in 68th place.

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