Welcome to the Monday Finish, where Molinari went bogey free over his last 28 holes, soared from 151st all the way to 20th in the FedExCup, and looked ahead to a potential second straight title and golf history at THE PLAYERS Championship.
Might have defended Arnold Palmer Invitational title he'd holed out better. And while it capped off an 8-under 64 and eventually gave Molinari a two-shot victory, the British Open champion had to wait almost two hours to see if his score would hold up. As the sun began to set, the Sheffield man was the only player who could halt another Molinari victory procession, a task in which there was no shame in falling short. He was also one of the few to relish the speed of the greens. "I guess I've become a lot more comfortable with the fact I'm going to fail more times than I succeed at that certain conquest or whatever you want to call it". "There's no way he's knocked it to 6 feet on every hole".
McIlroy will saddle back up this coming week at the Players Championship, where he'll have yet another chance to alter the annoying narrative that will follow him until he redirects it.
One is a Srixon 4-iron, which he hammered from 224 yards over the corner of the lake to 18 feet on the par-5 sixth for eagle. He played the four par 5s in 1 under.
"Just played really smart", said Fitzpatrick.
"Good golf is good golf".
Molinari delivered the highest quality on a day that required nothing less.
Francesco Molinari walks off of the 13th green during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill Club & Lodge. A bogey on the par-four eighth stained his scorecard and put him one stroke behind Fitzpatrick in solo second place.
Molinari was a ideal 12/12 from inside 10 feet.
He was at 9-under 207, which spoke to the difficulty of a fast, fiery course that would have made Arnie proud.
"Tough day, tough to get it close to the hole, " McIlroy said. "It's unreal to think I did it too".
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It was the same score McIlroy shot at this tournament a year ago to win - a victory that happens to be his last anywhere in the world.
A bogey at eight did little to slow his momentum as he added three more birdies on the inward nine, including a brilliant effort at the hard 18th, to take the outright lead as the final group made the turn.
Aaron Baddeley of Australia and Matt Wallace of England both shot 69 and are two strokes behind in a tie for third with Kevin Kisner, who finished at 70.
Sunjae Im, Tommy Fleetwood and Rafa Cabrera Bello finished tied for third at nine under.
"Yeah, my Sundays haven't been what I would have liked, but I'm putting myself in that position, so good golf is good golf, " McIlroy said. "I knew it was not going to be easy".
No one got closer than one shot to him the rest of the day.
Molinari pointed to the first of his last four victories for sparking his turnaround.
Marc Leishman, the only other Australian to play the weekend, was paired with McIlroy Saturday but couldn't keep pace with the Irishman.
"I'm just super glad", Molinari said. He proceeded to win the events again in 2006 and won the latter once more beyond that. "So from there I started building my confidence and just saying I could get it done". The Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour.
Meanwhile, Diksha Dagar continued her upward movement in the Women's New South Wales Open with a sterling third round display that put her in sight of her first Top-10 as a pro outside India. And like many pro golfers, McIlroy was born in another country - as his roots are from Northern Ireland, while he's also a part of the European Tour.