Golf Roundup: Fitzpatrick takes 1-shot lead over McIlroy at Bay Hill

Heather Diaz
March 12, 2019

Rory McIlroy, who trailed by one shot going into the final round, was the one who made the charge past year at Bay Hill with 64 to win by three.

Francesco Molinari made a move toward the top of the Official World Golf Ranking following his two-shot win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

"I kind of see the Claret Jug every day when I'm at home, so I'm used to seeing it", said Molinari, drawing a laugh in the media center. His final triumph was a 44-foot birdie putt from the back of the green to the familiar Sunday pin location at the 18th, tucked in the right corner, hanging on the edge of the water. A miss from five feet at the next hole rather set the tone for what was to come.

Rory McIlroy's quest for a Disney double ended in circumstances that may be worryingly familiar for a player of such huge talent.

Bradley, who started the day in second place behind Spanish overnight leader Rafael Cabrera Bello, turned in six birdies to go with a pair of bogeys. One interesting note: He lost strokes to the field in three of the four rounds he played and still almost made it into a playoff.

"THE PLAYERS next week is one of those weeks that you circle in the calendar at the beginning of the year", Molinari said. "The more times I put myself in this position the more I'm going to become comfortable there and sooner or later it's going to happen".

British Open champion Francesco Molinari delivered another big moment on the 18th green at Bay Hill, without wearing a red shirt and leaving the flag stick in the cup.

Matthew Fitzpatrick played bogey-free golf as he eased past Rory McIlroy for a one-stroke lead over the Northern Irishman after the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida on Saturday.

Rory McIlroy is widely considered as one of the best golfers in the world as the 2019 PGA Tour season ramps up.

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Perhaps it was only fitting that the claret jug was at Bay Hill, which served as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Back-to-back birdies at the 15th and 16th holes enabled the Englishman to overtake McIlroy and saved pars at his final two holes for a five-under-par 67 to head into Sunday's final round at nine-under 207.

The man from Turin gained 4.229 shots on the field on the green, and 6.3 strokes on McIlroy, who made just one significant putt in a pedestrian level-par 72 to finish four behind the victor on eight-under par.

The 2011 PGA Championship victor Keegan Bradley fired a 68 that included six birdies to seize a share of a 36-hole lead for the first time since 2013.

"I think it's been the best putting round ever in my career", Molinari said.

"I don't really - I mean obviously I see it - but I don't pay too much attention to it", Molinari said. The course was firm and fast yesterday and I knew it wasn't going to be easy for the guys in the lead, so I thought there was an outside chance. It's certainly better than the plight of, say, Jordan Spieth, who has not been better than 35th in his past eight worldwide starts.

When he won last July at Carnoustie, Molinari had to sit 30 minutes before finding out he had won his first major championship. He played in the final round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth tied with McIlroy, closed with a 68 and won by two.

"It's hard to point a finger at one thing", Molinari said. "But the condition of the greens is fantastic and they have been all week, so I think that that's what make it's so great". When I won past year, playing with Rory in the last few groups, it wasn't easy at all. The Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour.

Rickie Fowler (T40): Fowler finally had it cruising in the proper direction on Sunday afternoon before he was upended by a double bogey and a bogey late in the day to drop out of the top 25.

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