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2019
A hole-in-one early and a monster putt late played important roles as Francesco Molinari became the fourth consecutive international champion of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by...

A hole-in-one early and a monster putt late played important roles as Francesco Molinari became the fourth consecutive international champion of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard.  The 36-year-old Italian, the reigning Open champion, rode a 28-hole run of bogey-free golf to a final-round 64 and a two-stroke victory with his 12-under-par 276, his second in the United States.

The ace came at the seventh hole in the first round, helping Molinari get off to a respectable 69 start, four strokes behind the leader, Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello.  He remained within range with 70-73 as other international stars and a rejuvenated Keegan Bradley dominated the middle rounds.  Bradley and England’s Tommy Fleetwood jumped four strokes in front of the field Friday, Bradley with 67-68—135 and Fleetwood with 69 and a 66 punctuated by a pair of eagles.

The overseas influence continued Saturday as Bradley (75) and Fleetwood (76) faded and England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, the defending champion, seized the leading spots on a crowded leaderboard that had 21 players within five shots of the lead.  Fitzpatrick shot 67—207, a stroke better than McIlroy’s 66—208.  Molinari was one of six men five off the pace.

Out nearly two hours before the leaders, the veteran Italian was nearly flawless Sunday, his 45-foot birdie putt across the 18th green producing the 64 that was one shot shy of the tournament-record final round shot by Gary Koch in 1984.  He then waited as one after another came up short.  Fitzpatrick came closest with 71—278 and three other internationalists – Fitzpatrick, Bello and South Korea’s Sungjae Im – tied for third at 279.

You must play boldly to win. Arnold Palmer