Edoardo Molinari completed his second victory of the 2007 Challenge Tour season at the Tusker Kenya Open after a thrilling final round at the Karen Golf Club. The Italian, who began the final round three strokes clear of the field, staged a remarkable back nine comeback after dropping four strokes in three holes to take the €25,600 top prize by one shot from South Africa’s James Kamte.
One under par for the day after the first six holes of his final round, Molinari looked to be cruising to victory until he found trouble on the seventh and made bogey.
That dropped shot was then compounded with a double bogey on the eighth hole and another bogey on the ninth, and Molinari, who teed off on the seventh with a three stroke lead found himself one behind Kamte.
The Italian then went on to show the kind of grit and determination that made him the 2005 US Amateur champion and the Challenge Tour’s Club Colombia Masters champion with birdies on the 11th and the tough par four 13th, before completing his brilliant recovery with a miraculous approach shot to the 17th green.
Having driven into trouble from the tee, Molinari found his ball in a poor lie next to a bush in the rough and what looked like an impossible approach.
Knowing that he needed to pick up one more shot in his closing two holes to get back into the lead, Molinari made a magical swing with his nine iron and produced a stunning shot, his ball seeking out the pin and coming to rest just two feet from the hole.
He tapped in for birdie and then moved on to the par five 18th, where Kamte, playing in the group ahead of him, failed to make birdie and tie the lead. Safe in the knowledge that a par five would win him the tournament, Molinari found the green safely in two and happily took three putts from 50 feet to seal a wonderful victory with a final round of level par 70 for six under 274 aggregate.
"It feels great to have won again," smiled Molinari. "I had a really good practice session before teeing off today so I wasn’t nervous and played very well fort he first six holes, hitting lots of faiways and greens and playing nicely.
"Then I dropped all those shots in three holes to go from being three strokes ahead to one behind, but I knew I had time to pick up more shots on the back nine and it was pleasing to do it the way I did it.
"My shot on the 17th was the shot of the week, and then I was very happy to make such a good three putt on the 18th to win!."
With his victory, Molinari moves to the top of the Challenge Tour Rankings with earnings of €52,151. Kamte’s second place finish lifts him to ninth on the Rankings, while Sweden’s Mikael Lundberg, who finished third at the Karen Golf Club is now in 13th place.