Francesco Molinari had seen so many clutch birdie putts on the 18th green at Bay Hill, majority by Tiger Woods in the final group, usually with Arnold Palmer standing next to the green expecting like everyone else for them go in. After the putt kissed the flagstick and found the cup, the API's eventual victor wagged his index finger to the sky and then performed a fist pump.
"You know, it was the first week as a Callaway player, so happy to see that the switch I made wasn't that insane as some people thought", said the Italian. "And yeah, just started making putts, one of my best putting rounds ever". "It was really unbelievable to see".
"I find it a lot more nerve-wracking sitting there than being out there playing", Molinari said. I get into the events that I'd like to be into again, the schedules change, I'm no longer having to pick and choose. When it's not up to you, it's not a very nice feeling.
Molinari, Europe's hero in last year's Ryder Cup victory over the United States in France, sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the opening hole, made another birdie from 44 feet at the par-4 eighth, dropped yet another from 18 feet at the 13th and two-putted from 20 feet to birdie the par-5 16th. "My Sundays haven't been what I would have liked, but I'm putting myself in that position".
The overnight leader, Fitzpatrick struggled to make headway on what was a steady round of golf and ultimately finished two shots behind victor Francesco Molinari. Rory McIlroy remained in sixth, now followed by Molinari, Xander Schauffele, Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm.
"It's high up there with the best wins I've had", he added.
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In contrast, Molinari surged up the leaderboard on the final day with an eight under par round 64.
"It feels good", said Harding, who had two top fives and three further top 20s from eight events coming into the event. "That's the great thing about golf, you don't have to wait too long to get back on the horse", he said. "So, no, I'm happy with everything".
But both Fitzpatrick and his compatriot Matt Wallace, who eagled the 16th hole, were left needing to birdie both of the closing holes to force a play-off with Molinari. "So it's still a bit unreal to think that I've done kind of the same today". "I'm delighted for solo second, but I just felt like the way I played and the way I was hitting it, I could have been a little more aggressive".
He posted a 12-under 276 total, which at the time he finished was good for a two-stroke lead over Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick, who had completed 11 holes. McIlroy and last week's victor Keith Mitchell highlighted a group of four at eight under. A week after winning the Honda Classic, Keith Mitchell carded a 66 to finish 8-under and end the tournament as low American on a leaderboard with eight global players among the top-nine finishers.
McIlroy, in yet another in a series of disappointing final rounds in which he's come up short while in contention, shot even par Sunday and finished at 8-under, along with Mitchell, last week's Honda Classic victor, Wallace and Kang.
Meeting with the media and donned in an Arnold Palmer red alpaca cardigan, Molinari toasted Palmer with one of the legend's favourite drinks, Ketel One vodka, on the rocks, with a twist of lemon. And his Sunday 64 that won him the Arnold Palmer Invitational proves last summer's breakout was no fluke. The immaculate fairways, deep rough, and rock hard greens were fit to host a major.