Fantastic Francesco stars as Rory's Sunday struggles continue

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Francesco Molinari picked up his third PGA Tour victory as he claimed the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Joe Hughes wraps up the action from Bay Hill

Arnold Palmer Invitational report: What happened at Bay Hill?

Francesco Molinari produced a wonderful final round charge to beat off the likes of Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

With a spectacular 64, Molinari posted a clubhouse lead of 12-under-par and left it to the remainder of the field to try and catch him. In the end, they weren’t even close.

Final Leaderboard

Momentum was with the Italian throughout the final day and he was seriously in with a shout after brilliantly chipping in at the 8th.

From there, the rest of his round followed suit in swashbuckling Arnold Palmer fashion.

A birdie at the 12th saw him move into a tie for second, as those around him failed to make any meaningful progress.

But it was the closing putt that was the highlight of the round for The Open champion, a 44-footer for birdie which led to a fist-pump that emulated his Carnoustie celebration.

Arnie would have been proud.

Molinari’s challengers fell away one by one – Rory perhaps being the most disappointing, but we’ll get onto that…

Fitzpatrick just couldn’t get anything going and didn’t really see a putt fall all day.

His fellow countryman, Matt Wallace, threatened to finish strongly as he eagled the 16th. But back-to-back bogeys followed and he fell into a tie for 6th.

You may have noticed that, strangely, no Americans have featured in this round-up – and there is an astonishing reason behind that.

For the first time since the 2010 Open at St Andrews, no one Stateside finished inside the top 5.

Positive times for European golf, for sure.

The PGA Tour show now rolls on to TPC Sawgrass for what will surely be a magnificent Players Championship.

Arnold Palmer Invitational report: Talking Points

McIlroy struggled in the final group on Sunday, yet again.

He teed it up alongside overnight leader Fitzpatrick and the Northern Irishman really didn’t look like the same player we’d been watching on Saturday.

Rory has played in the final group NINE times since the beginning of 2018 and not once has he gone on to claim victory.

How can this be the case with a golfer of his talent?

It’s a bit of a mystery, but it certainly is becoming a bit of a worry.

Granted, he hasn’t been the leader going into most of them, but in seven of his 13 PGA Tour strokeplay wins he has come from behind to win in the final round, so he is more than capable of doing it.

Maybe it’s a mental hurdle that Rory needs to get over or maybe it is a case of him not being able to find his game on the day. Whatever it is, we’re sure he will be keener than anyone to get over the line again.

Having said all that, we could look at this another way in terms of his form heading towards the Players Championship and the Masters.

In the previous five events he has played in, he has had a very feasible chance of victory.

So, with that in mind, we could overlook the fact that he is not quite getting the job done at the moment and conclude his game is in such a good place he is bound to win either the Players or that elusive green jacket, right?

Another point

On Saturday, we got another fantastic glimpse into Tyrell Hatton’s on-course mind as he made sure he had a question answered during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

It’s vintage Tyrell, take a look for yourself…

And finally…

A shout out to Matt Fitzpatrick’s caddie, Billy Foster, who was sporting a Leeds United FC cap for the final round.

Alongside his Sheffield United supporting employer, and Manchester United fan Rory, good on him for donning his team’s crest.

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