Friday, 19 March 2010

Francesco Molinari ended a 26-year wait for a home winner when he captured the Telecom Italia Open on by four strokes. A faultless final round of seven under par 65 to total 23 under par 265, earned the 23 year old from Turin his maiden European Tour title in only his second season Tour.

He finished ahead of Sweden's Jarmo Sandelin and Anders Hansen of Denmark.

Molinari became The Tour's ninth first-time winner of the season and he did so in style in front of a large and enthusiastic gallery.

He made light of his relative inexperience and the pressure on him to follow 1980 winner Massimo Mannelli into the record book.

An chip-in for eagle at the first by Molinari took him two shots ahead of the field and immediately separated him from his playing partner Benn Barham of England, with whom he had shared the overnight lead. From there the Italian was never caught.

As Barham fell away it was Sandelin and Hansen who added to Molinari's pressure but the Scandinavians both faltered with late bogeys.

Five birdies, including one at the last, to add to his opening eagle earned Molinari the €233,330 winner's cheque and enabled him to add to his family's golfing glory.

Last year his 25 year old brother, Edoardo, won the U.S. Amateur Championship.
Edoardo, who turns professional after playing in the British Open in July, led the champagne celebrations on the 18th green after his brother's exhilarating success.

“It’s amazing – unbelievable,” said Molinari. “I never thought I would win so early in my career. I wanted to bring some joy in Italian golf, but I didn’t think that I would do it this year. It’s unbelievable – a dream come true. And next year they can say that is has only been one year since the last Italian Open.

“I wasn’t too nervous. I got a good break on the first hole and then I knew that I just had to keep hitting the ball and staying patient. I was quite nervous when I three putted the 12th because I saw that Jarmo was 20 under as well so it was very close then. Then I saw the next leaderboard on the 16th and saw that I had two shots and then three shots so it was going well for me.

“I played some really good golf – I could have made some more putts but this is fantastic. This is the best I have ever played. I only had one bogey and that was with three putts. I could have gone 72 holes without a bogey – that is how well I played.

“I have to thank all the people that were here supporting me because I have never seen a crowd like this. It was great, like being in a football stadium. It was incredible.”
Sandelin's prize of €121,595 guarantees the Swedish five time European Tour winner, whose career took a nosedive last year, a Tour card for next season. He also closed with a 65 to come through the field, while Hansen shot a 66.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1MOLINARI, FrancescoITA18-23
T2SANDELIN, JarmoSWE18-19
T2HANSEN, AndersDEN18-19
4KJELDSEN, SørenDEN18-18
5TEILLERIA, BenoitFRA18-17
T6ARCHER, PhillipENG18-16
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