Francesco Molinari became the first Italian player to win a PGA Tour event since 1947 as he cruised to an eight shot victory at the Quicken Loans National on Sunday.
His first PGA Tour victory comes in just his third event since winning the European Tour’s flagship tournament – the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth – and he did it in an undisbutably convincing manor at TPC Potomac.
Having started the day tied for the lead, Molinari immediately gained an advantage after playing partner Abraham Ancer failed to get up and down from the bunker to save par at the first, and he doubled that lead with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-five second.
Another birdie came on the par-four sixth hole for Francesco, but it wasn’t until a 15-foot par save on the ninth that he really became untouchable for the rest of the field.
He played the next five-holes in six under, setting the tone with an eagle on the 10th before rolling in four birdies from the 11th to 14th to open up a nine-shot lead.
Ryan Armour managed to claim solo second with two birdies on his last five holes, but it was only to end eight shots adrift of Molinari, who signed for a bogey-free 62 and a record-low tournament score of 21-under par.
“Amazing,” Molinari said. “I’ve always said that the next stage of my career would have been to win over here, and to do it in this fashion, it’s even better. I’m very proud of the way I played today. Probably some of the best golf I’ve ever played and I’ll ever play in the future. I think it’s hard to play better than this.”
Molinari elected to skip the European Tour’s French Open in favour of the PGA Tour event due to his placing in the FedEx Cup, and he said missing the Rolex Series event was the right decision in the end as he moved from 123rd to 42nd.
“I came here obviously because I was right on the bubble in the FedExCup and I wanted to gain a better position, so I guess job done.
“It was (a big risk), but the risk on the other side was I was 123rd on the FedExCup. 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.”
He was also quick to credit host Tiger Woods, who ended up in a tie for 4th place with Abraham Ancer at 11-under-par, 10 shots behind Molinari.
“It’s amazing to win a tournament hosted by Tiger. I grew up as a teenager watching him on TV, dominating golf tournaments. It’s even more special to win in this style, and to get his congratulations on the last green was a very proud moment for me.”
Sung Kang finished in third on 12-under, with Tiger and Ancer a shot further back and Bronson Burgoon and Beau Hossler finishing on -10. For Armour, Kang, Burgoon and Ancer there was a further bonus, all securing their spots for The Open at Carnoustie later in July.
Rounding out the rest of the top 10 on nine-under were Ryan Palmer, Brian Gay, Chesson Hadley and Andrew Landry. Rickie Fowler finished 12th on eight-under-par.