Molinari edges out McIlroy to win at Wentworth
Flawless Francesco Molinari embraced the pressure to secure his biggest win yet at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Molinari entered the final round deadlocked with Rory McIlroy but after draining a birdie putt on the third hole took the lead and never looked back.
He is the third Italian to win the event after Matteo Manassero in 2013 and Constantino Rocca in 1996, whose national record of five Tour wins he now shares.
Molinari clearly likes the challenge of Wentworth’s West Course, with five top ten finishes in the last six years and a second place behind Alex Noren 12 months ago.
"I've been close so many times. If I could pick one tournament to win in my career it would be this one, so to finally get over the line was amazing. I can't wait to be back next year,” said Molinari, whose victory secures a three-year exemption for The Open Championship.
"I knew it wasn't going to be easy with Rory, he probably didn't play his best but I still knew he was going to charge back on the last few holes.”
Molinari now heads to his home tournament at the Italian Open - an event he has won twice in 2006 and 2016 - brimming with confidence.
And he is eyeing a third Ryder Cup appearance, after being part of the European winning teams in 2010 and 2012.
"I came into this week knowing that I was a long way back in the Ryder Cup standings and that something pretty special needed to happen,” he said.
“We are halfway there and next week is another important week from that point of view.”
Swing changes will take time, says McIlroy
Rory McIlroy believes changes he is making to his game will take time to make an impact, after finishing second at the European Tour’s flagship event.
McIlroy was leading after 36 holes thanks to a masterful second round 65, ‘the best round I've ever seen,’ according to playing partner and defending champion Alex Noren.
But he found it tougher going on the weekend as he finished two shots behind Francesco Molinari.
McIlroy - whose only win this year came at the Arnold Palmer Invitational - makes no secret that the Wentworth course does not suit his game and this was his best performance here since winning in 2014.
And that year he went on to become the Champion Golfer at Royal Liverpool and claim the PGA Championship at Valhalla in the weeks that followed.
McIlroy has been working on changes to his swing with coach Michael Bannon and believes those tweaks will need time to take effect.
He said: “This is my first competitive start since trying to rectify things. When you're working through a bit of a swing change, it takes more than a week's work to try to bed it in.
“I’ve given myself a great chance here this week. I didn't quite pull it off but it's not far away. I get a bit down on myself because my expectations are high, and with a 36-hole lead, I should have closed it out this week.”
Justin Rose puts his name alongside Ben Hogan
Justin Rose’s nerveless final round secured him his ninth PGA Tour title at the Fort Worth Invitational.
The Olympic champion and world number five carded a six-under par 64 to hold off nearest challenger, US Open champion Brooks Koepka, by three shots.
Rose opted to skip the PGA Championship - where his best performance is a play-off defeat in 2007 - to satisfy a new PGA Tour rule that requires players to appear in at least one event in which they have not competed in the past four years.
And the move paid dividends as he secured his fourth success since November 2017, meaning he now ties with Sir Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman since World War Two.
"I'm very proud of the places I've been able to win and I've been inspired by some of these great venues,” said Rose, after winning on a Colonial course where the legendary Ben Hogan was a five-time champion.
“It’s great to win at a course that has great history and has had great champions. If I look at the courses I've won at, this definitely strengthens that group even more.”
FaceTime with the 🌹family back home! 👨👩👧👦🏆📱 pic.twitter.com/22ICkYTEn7— Justin Rose (@JustinRose99) May 28, 2018
Champion Golfer Spieth wants to win the mind games
Champion Golfer Jordan Spieth believes maintaining a healthy mind will be key to more success on the course.
Spieth finished in a tie for 32nd at the Fort Worth Invitational but admitted pre-championship how he’d previously let bad performances haunt him.
Now, he’s determined not to ride the rollercoaster of victory and defeat.
“I’ve tried to be selfish in the way that I focus on being as happy as I possibly can be playing the game I love. I’ve tried not getting caught up in noise, good or bad,” he said.
“The highs are too high and the lows are too low from the outside from my real experience of them. I’m trying to stay pretty neutral and just look at the big picture things and try and wake up every single day loving what I do."
Four qualify for The Open in Japan
Japan’s Shota Akiyoshi secured his place at The Open with a victory at The Gateway to The Open Mizuno Open in Japan.
And he will be joined by Michael Hendry, Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayash at Carnoustie after the latest event in The Open Qualifying Series.
“This will be my first time playing at Carnoustie,” said Akiyoshi. “I have never played links golf before but I consider myself a good iron player and I’m very confident with my game in that regard.
“I scored well in windy conditions on a long course at The Royal Golf Club this week so it will give me a lot of confidence for playing Carnoustie.” Read More >