Francesco Molinari runs away with Quicken Loans National
POTOMAC, Md. Francesco Molinari chose to play the PGA Tour this week rather than the European Tour because he wanted to pick up some FedEx Cup points. Well, mission accomplished.
Molinari won the 2018 Quicken Loans National running away, carding a final-round 62 record at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm to round out the week 21-under par (67-65-65-62).
Molinari set the tournament scoring record for both aggregate score (259) and relative to par. He finished eight strokes ahead of Ryan Armour.
Tournament host Tiger Woods posted a 66 Sunday to finish tied for fourth at 11-under, his third top-5 of the season as he continues his comeback from a back injury.
With Molinari, Woods and Beau Hossler already exempt for the Open Championship, coming later this month at Carnoustie, the top four finishers besides them qualified for the third major of the year: Armour, Sung Kang, Abraham Ancer and Bronson Burgoon.
Molinari is the first player from Italy to win on the PGA Tour since 1947, when Italian-American Toney Penna secured the last of his four career victories. The 35-year-old has won five times on the European Tour, including that Tour’s premiere event, the BMW PGA Championship, in May.
In last year’s final round at the same course, the lead was a turnstile that several golfers took a pass through and the winning score was just 7-under only after Kyle Stanley defeated Charles Howell III in a playoff. Golfers in the 2018 field said on Tuesday, on Wednesday and even after the first round Thursday that they expected the course to play similarly tough; Woods predicted that the winner again would finish in single-digits relative to par.
But TPC Potomac never toughened up, and someone shot 62 or 63 in ever round. Kang, Woods and Burgoon went low Sunday, but they couldn’t play defense against Molinari.
The Italian led by three strokes heading into the turn while Ancer, his playing partner and 54-hole co-leader, could not find a way to pick up a birdie. Molinari played the par-5 10th hole flawlessly: a 322-yard drive to the middle of the fairway, an approach that threatened the pin before rolling to the back of the green and a 48 -foot eagle putt over a ridge that died just at the hole.
49 FEET! 🦅What a putt by @F_Molinari.The lead is now five. #LiveUnderPar pic.twitter.com/YNmzU1CSmm PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 1, 2018
That hole moved Molinari to 17-under, five clear of Ancer. As if that hadn’t already put the tournament out of reach, the leader birdied the next four holes. His approaches on the par-4 11th and the par-4 14th landed within two feet and three feet, respectively.
As for those FedEx Cup points? The 500 Molinari earned for his victory launched him from 123rd to 42nd in the standings.