Francesco Molinari charges to a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational

The battle between the Englishman and the Irishman was won by an Italian.

Matthew Fitzpatrick of England and defending champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland charged from back in the pack to the top of the leaderboard in the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

While he came from two behind to win from the penultimate group at Bay Hill past year, carding a blistering 64 to triumph by three, it was Open champion Molinari (36) who closed with an eight-under 64 this time to win his third PGA Tour title by two strokes from overnight leader Matt Fitzpatrick, who shot 71, on 12-under.

Bradley got a big lift at the 15th hole when he sank a monster birdie putt from 33 feet.

Speaking after the win, Molinari said: "I tried to be aggressive from the start and it was nice to see quite a lot of putts dropping. especially for my standards". "It was really awesome to see".

"But the short game keeps you in and then all of a sudden you play some good golf and you can build some momentum".

"I said this after I won the Open Championship previous year, I didn't enjoy it - that half an hour - at all and I didn't enjoy today at all watching the other guys", he said. Sure, it was always going to be hard to deflect the fire Molinari was spewing, but at what point in a long series of "what are you going to do about that other guy having a career day?" do you start asking, "Why isn't Rory ever that other guy?" He gained 4.2 strokes against the field with his putting on Sunday.

"I got everything out of it", he said.

He added: "I'm leading the tournament now but yesterday, through the first 10 holes, I could have easily been out of the tournament as I was struggling". He had gone out on a tough day and performed at a level no one came close to matching. Rory McIlroy started the final round one shot behind and never got anything going. I'm getting myself into contention every week, [so] continue to do that. "That's the great thing about golf, you don't have to wait too long to get back on the course. So, no, I'm happy with everything". "I'm playing well. It doesn't matter if I'm playing that golf on Thursday, Friday, Saturday". I don't want to overstate the importance of learning how to win on the best tour in the world, but there's certainly still a little "I kind of need to see it to believe it" lingering with Fleetwood. You just have to hit your targets and the greens are fiery.

First-round leader Rafa Cabrera-Bello was sharing second when his approach to the last found water and he dropped to nine under. He's finished inside the top-10 eight times in his last 11 starts.

Canada's Roger Sloan shot a one-under 71 and finished the week at four under and tied for 23rd.

The world number 14 played out from a fairway bunker to within two feet at the first for a birdie, one of five in his closing 68.

It was Molinari's turn Sunday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, with a few big differences.

Palmer no doubt would have been impressed by Molinari's Sunday 64, and he would have been proud of the way Bay Hill played all week.

  • Stacy Allen