Played at iconic Bay Hill Club and Lodge for the past 40 years, the Arnold Palmer Invitational has consistently seen exhilarating late-Sunday drama, typically with a superfluity of A-list golfers sparring down the stretch, desperately vying to have their name forever associated with the legendary man whose name makes up the title of the event.
This was not one of those years.
Bay Hill was a one-man show on Sunday this year, as reigning Open Champion Francesco Molinari absolutely obliterated the API field to the tune of a tournament-low 8-under 64, winning by two strokes over 54-hole leader Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Ranked 10th in the world at the beginning of the week, the 36-year-old from Italy has been firmly on the golf world’s radar for some time, but Molinari was still something of an afterthought through three rounds, as he was in a tie for 17th place, five strokes behind at an event where the low scores are not really that low.
But Molinari was THE show on Sunday. His bogey-free round comprised of four birdies on each side, and having started so far back, when he sunk a stunning 44-foot putt on the famous 18th green, the final pairing was two hours away from being finished. Challenger after challenger finished their rounds, but in the clubhouse at 12-under, nobody was able to get closer than two strokes behind him late.
It was a phenomenal final round for Molinari, who had been playing underwhelming golf since the calendar turned to 2019, at least in comparison to his ridiculous 2018 season, which included three wins worldwide, the Open Championship at Carnoustie the most notable, and two additional runner-ups. He is “back,” if he was ever really gone in the first place, given that he’d only made three official PGA Tour starts on the new season.
Read the full recap at Pro Golf Weekly