Molinari mobbed after maiden victory

European Tour

Tournament: Telecom Italia Open
Venue: Castello di Tolcinasco G & CC Milan, Italy
Winner Francesco Molinari

Francesco Molinari was drenched in champagne on the 18th green on Sunday after deservedly becoming the first home winner of the Italian Open for 26 years at Castello di Tolcinasco.
Molinari carded a brilliant final-round 65 for a 23-under-par total of 265, four shots clear of Sweden’s Jarmo Sandelin and Denmark’s Anders Hansen.
The 23-year-old, who claimed the first prize of £161,000, was engulfed by family and friends after he holed a seven-foot birdie putt on the final hole to spark massive celebrations from the home crowd.
“It’s amazing, really unbelievable,” said Molinari, who dropped only one shot all week with a three-putt on the fourth hole of his first round.
“I would not have thought about winning so early in my career. I was hoping to give the Italian supporters some joy soon but I was not thinking about this year.
“I was quite nervous after I three-putted the 12th for par because I saw Jarmo Sandelin was also 20 under par, but when I saw the next leaderboard on the 16th I was two clear so I knew it was going well for me.
“I want to thank all the people supporting me, it was like playing in a football stadium.”
Molinari’s elder brother, Edoardo, won the US Amateur title last year, and Francesco added: “I think we are equal now.
“I had to win something to catch him. We are 1-1 now and need to score some more goals.”
Molinari was not even born when Italy last enjoyed a home victory in their national open, Massimo Mannelli winning by five shots in Rome in 1980.
He began the day tied for the lead with England’s Benn Barham, but was never headed from the moment he eagled the par-five first for the second time this week.
Birdies at the sixth and ninth took him to the turn in 32 and kept him just in front of the chasing pack led by Sandelin and Hansen.
Sandelin drew level by chipping to within inches of the hole for a birdie on the 15th, but then three-putted the next for a bogey after charging his birdie attempt 10 feet past.
Molinari, who finished 86th on the money list in his rookie season last year, then stretched his advantage with a birdie on the 13th and effectively sealed victory with another from three feet on the par-five 15th.
Sandelin could also celebrate securing his card for next season with his third top-10 finish of the season.
The extrovert Swede won five times on the European Tour between 1995 and 2002, and played in the Ryder Cup at Brookline in 1999, but lost his card last season and had to regain it at the qualifying school in November.
“I think this week is the best golf I have ever played,” insisted Sandelin. “1999 is not even close. I have more control over all the elements of the game now.
“I was on tour for 10 years without a coach, doing my own thing, and I decided I needed to make some major changes.
“I started to work with (renowned coach) Robert Baker 18 months ago and it has produced results. It’s been very hard work but if the fruits are this good then it’s worth it.
“I can shoot low numbers like 65 now and still have missed several other good chances. Hopefully this is the start of a new era for me.”
Overnight joint leader Barham never recovered from a double bogey on the second and struggled to a closing 75 which left him down in a share of 16th.
Warrington’s Phillip Archer, third in the Spanish Open at San Roque last week, continued his good form with a closing 71 to finish joint sixth alongside Welshman Bradley Dredge (68).
ALL THE FINAL SCORES
265 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 68 65 67 65 (£161,666)
269 Jarmo Sandelin (Swe) 69 68 67 65, Anders Hansen (Den) 70 67 66 66 (£84,249 each)
270 Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 63 70 69 68 (£48,500)
271 Benoit Teilleria (Fra) 69 68 65 69 (£41,128)
272 Bradley Dredge 67 69 68 68, Phillip Archer 66 67 68 71 (£31,525 each)
273 Marc Warren 69 68 70 66, Alessandro Tadini (Ita) 66 72 67 68, Garry Houston 70 70 65 68, Peter Fowler (Aus) 68 67 68 70 274 Andrew McLardy (Rsa) 67 69 72 66, Steven Jeppesen (Swe) 67 71 67 69, David Drysdale 67 64 73 70, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 70 68 64 72
275 John Bickerton 69 69 71 66, Brad Sutterfield (USA) 70 70 69 66, Gregory Havret (Fra) 66 68 73 68, David Griffiths 70 68 69 68, Jonathan Lomas 67 68 71 69, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 70 67 68 70, Titch Moore (Rsa) 71 67 67 70, Benn Barham 65 68 67 75
276 Andrew Butterfield 66 68 74 68, Alessio Bruschi (Ita) 68 70 69 69, Steven O’Hara 72 68 67 69, Mark Roe 69 66 71 70, Richard Green (Aus) 67 69 68 72
277 Francisco Valera (Spa) 69 70 70 68, Alexandre Rocha (Ita) 68 66 72 71, Richard McEvoy 71 69 66 71, Peter Gustafsson (Swe) 70 67 68 72
278 Lee Slattery 69 71 69 69, Emanuele Canonica (Ita) 69 69 70 70, David Bransdon (Aus) 69 69 69 71, Marco Crespi (Ita) 71 67 68 72, Gregory Bourdy (Fra) 66 70 69 73, Hennie Otto (Rsa) 69 68 67 74, Miguel Carballo (Arg) 67 70 66 75
279 Shaun Webster 70 69 72 68, Mark Foster 69 67 74 69, Ian Woosnam 70 66 73 70, Leif Westerberg (Swe) 69 65 74 71, Sven Struver (Ger) 70 65 73 71, Anthony Wall 70 65 73 71, David Lynn 71 69 68 71, Marcus Fraser (Aus) 71 66 70 72, Santiago Luna (Spa) 72 68 67 72
280 Magnus Persson (Swe) 69 71 70 70, Ricardo Gonzalez (Arg) 74 65 70 71
281 James Hepworth 66 71 74 70, Sebastian Fernandez (Arg) 68 67 75 71, Christian Nilsson (Swe) 70 69 71 71, Michael Kirk (Rsa) 66 72 70 73, Paul Dwyer 73 67 67 74, (x) Matteo Delpodio (Ita) 67 69 70 75
282 Fredrik Henge (Swe) 72 67 71 72
283 Gary Orr 73 67 71 72, Stephen Scahill (Nzl) 70 67 71 75
284 Rafael Gomez (Arg) 67 70 73 74, Tom Whitehouse 70 68 72 74
286 Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 67 68 75 76
288 Andrea Maestroni (Ita) 72 67 74 75, Stephen Dodd 69 67 73 79
289 Richard Bland 71 67 77 74
Ret: Christopher Hanell (Swe)