Francesco Molinari makes first PGA Tour win a rout at Quicken Loans National

Jul 1, 2018; Potomac, MD, USA; Francesco Molinari of Italy celebrates on the 18th hole after winning the Quicken Loans National golf tournament at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

Francesco Molinari makes first PGA Tour win a rout at Quicken Loans National

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Francesco Molinari makes first PGA Tour win a rout at Quicken Loans National

POTOMAC, Md. – Winning for the first time on the PGA Tour is supposed to be hard. Francesco Molinari made it look laughably easy Sunday at the Quicken Loans National.

Molinari began the day tied for the lead and matched the low round of the week with an 8-under 62 to finish eight shots ahead of runner-up Ryan Armour. His 21-under 259 total set a tournament scoring record in what might be the final PGA Tour stop in the D.C. area for years, as the event moves to Detroit in 2019.

“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.”

The 35-year-old Italian has four career European Tour wins, including the 2016 Italian Open, and conquered TPC Potomac in his 122nd PGA Tour start. Sunday he drained a 48-footer for eagle at the par-5 10th and birdied the next four holes, at which point everyone else on the course realized their chances at winning were gone.

Molinari bettered Kyle Stanley’s 2017 winning total by 14 shots, as the course proved far friendlier than it did when yielding Stanley’s score of 7 under. It still provided a tough test, but 12 players shot 8 under or better thanks to greens that were far softer than last year.

There were some grueling weather conditions to deal with – one caddie said the heat Sunday reminded him of the Malaysian Open, the hottest tournament he’d ever worked. That didn’t deter the fans from heading out to the course all week. Most were there to see Tiger Woods, who finished T-4 at 11 under and was within one shot of the lead on Saturday afternoon.

Woods birdied four holes in a row in Round 3, at Nos. 4-7. Absolutely everyone wants a piece of the action when he goes on a run like that. Woods was paired with Joel Dahmen on Saturday and his caddie, Geno Bonnalie, later tweeted, “It was 100+ degrees out there and I had goosebumps all day long. That was awesome.”

Those not lucky enough to be paired with Woods had to take different measures. Fans sprinted from tee to fairway, jockeying for position. Some took the rope lines as suggestions and just ducked under, surrounding the 12th tee in a restricted area and befuddling law enforcement Saturday. Others just tried to play it cool.

Scott Fawcett is well-known in golf circles for developing the DECADE course-management system. He was on the bag for Doc Redman at the National but off the clock while Woods made his Saturday charge.

“I just went out there and acted like I should be there,” Fawcett said. “Just went inside the ropes and walked a couple holes. Finally on the 10th tee, I knew where I was standing was a little fishy but I couldn’t un-commit to where I was standing. Some guy came walking up like, ‘Who are you with?’”

Fawcett got chucked at that point, but he’d already snuck a great view of Woods’ 25-foot birdie putt at No. 9.

Even Molinari paid tribute shortly after the biggest win of his career, in which he ruthlessly cut down the field like the man playing host did for years.

“It’s amazing to win a tournament hosted by Tiger,” Molinari said. “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.” Gwk

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