Pittsburgh, PA — With the heat index exceeding 100 degrees at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, the only thing which may have been warmer was Francesco Molinari’s final round play at the Quicken Loans National.
While Molinari was taking a well-deserved victory lap, a female patron was trying to take a selfie and the Italian obliged.
It was all smiles for Molinari as he won the Quicken Loans National by eight strokes, good for his first ever PGA TOUR win.
“I came here obviously because I was right on the bubble in the FedExCup and I wanted to gain a better position, so I guess job done,” he said. “Last year I missed the TOUR Championship I think by a single shot in Chicago and it wasn’t nice. I’m in a better position now to try and get there this year and I think that’s just going to be my goal going forward.”
Walking to the 18th hole with an 8-shot lead.
But first 🤳 pic.twitter.com/9fUf5sKjXQ
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 1, 2018
This win matches the largest margin of victory in the 2017-18 season with Dustin Johnson who won the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Molinari who came into the week ranked 123rd in the FedEx Cup now improves to 42nd.
Molinari’s final round of 8-under par 62 also matched Abraham Ancer and Kevin Streelman for lowest at Quicken Loans National play at TPC Potomac.
For what it is worth, Molinari won the 2010 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China but the victory was not declared official since he was not a PGA TOUR member.
Assessing what earned Molinari the win, he ranked at or near the top of the field in several different categories which allowed him to set records for lowest 72 hole score at the event and largest margin of victory.
Molinari ranked first on the week in Strokes Gained: Approaching the Green (+9.869) and total putts but also ranked second in proximity to the hole (27’8″) and fourth in driving accuracy hitting 42 of 56 fairways.
This win makes Molinari the first Italian to win on the PGA TOUR since Toney Penna in 1947.
“It’s just another thing to think of to win over here in the U.S,” said Molinari. “It’s not easy when you come from a country like Italy where golf is not really the first sport. It’s been a long journey, it’s been a long way and I’m very proud of standing here with the trophy.”
Molinari came into the week ranked 17th in the Official World Golf Ranking and due to field strength will not move up even with the victory.
Earlier in the week, Molinari told PGA TOUR radio that he watched the Quicken Loans National and while he was tempted to go to France for the European Tour event, he did not after last year’s viewing and his enjoy the atmosphere.
“I should watch more tournaments on TV, probably base my schedule on that,” he said.
Tiger Woods shot a 4-under par round of 66 and tied for fourth place at 11-under par. Woods now improves to 67th in the Official World Golf Ranking and needs a first-page result at The Open Championship in order to make the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
“I rolled the ball well this week,” he said. “I did some good work last week and the putter felt good. It felt good to start my ball on the lines again. I’m starting to see it, starting to feel it, and I had the pace pretty much good all week. The putts I missed, I hit a lot of good ones, which I don’t mind because I hadn’t been doing that for a while, the better part of two months. Even my good ones didn’t look very good, so this was nice.”
Putting the mallet putter in play this week, Woods finished seventh in Strokes Gained: Putting, his best mark of the season and his 21 birdies tied Molinari for most in the field.
Carnoustie table for four
Quicken Loans National partners with The Open Champion to offer four spots to the season’s third major for individuals in the top 12 of the final standings who have not yet qualified.
With his runner-up finish, Ryan Armour took the first of four spots.
Armour fired four sub-70 rounds on the week and earned his best result since an October Sanderson Farms Championship victory.
“I’m so excited to go over to Scotland,” he said. “You know, I’ve always thought that my game could translate over there with hitting fairways and keeping it low to the ground, so I’m excited to see Carnoustie.”
The second spot went to Sung Kang who finished in third place after a 6-under par 64.
“I’ll just kind of enjoy,” said Kang. “Majors always fun. I wasn’t really planning to go, but if I’m going, then I’ll just have fun I actually like the links. I like the course where the wind blows hard and they’re running it around, so it will be good for me.”
Third round co-leader Abraham Ancer took the third spot tying for fourth with Woods and posting his best PGA TOUR finish int he process. It will be his first-ever major tournament, something which may take the sting out of what he will surely view as a disappointing final round.
“Obviously I wasn’t even thinking about that, I was just playing my round today and just finishing obviously as high as I could. Then I remembered on 18, ‘oh, there’s some spots for The Open’. So it’s always been a dream come true playing The Open, I’ve always watched since I was a little kid. It will be an incredible experience being there this year.”
The fourth and final spot went to Bronson Burgoon who tied for sixth place, his first-ever top-10 result on the PGA TOUR and played with Woods on the final day.
After being paired with Tiger Woods for the Final Round of the @QLNational, Bronson Burgoon made sure he got a picture.
Well…a couple pictures. pic.twitter.com/HBw29IfJkb
— GOLFonCBS (@GOLFonCBS) July 1, 2018
It should be noted that while there were four Open Championship spots available, others were able to qualify as well. Byeong Hun An, Beau Hossler, Charles Howell III, Kevin Na and Chez Reavie all secured a trip to Carnoustie.
Sung Kang fired a final round 6-under par 64, placing solo third and earning a spot at The Open Championship, but there are questions regarding how he played the par-5 10th hole.
So much so, that Twitter user Jim Duke asked Kang’s playing partner Joel Dahmen what happened and instead of nothing happening, a response came three hours later.
Kang cheated. He took a bad drop from a hazard. I argued until I was blue. I lost.
— Joel Dahmen (@Joel_Dahmen) July 2, 2018
Any allegation of cheating in golf is major and when someone who was right there when the lengthy decision was made uses such a word on Twitter it instantly calls for attention.
The issue at hand surrounding Kang’s 247-yard approach into the 10th and Dahmen felt an improper drop was taken by Kang
The issue took 25 minutes, which was enough time that the group behind them, Ben Crane and Ryan Palmer played through while the decision was being made.
Dahmen’s perspective was that the issue at hand was whether or not the ball crossed the hazard, which Dahmen clearly felt it did not.
Kang would finish in third place making $482,800 for the week, while Dahmen tied for 23rd.
Ultimately Dahmen said he signed the final scorecard because if he did not, the rules official would and it would just delay what would have happened anyways.
It remains to be seen what if anything comes from this, but both Dahmen and Kang are in next week’s Greenbrier Classic field.
Quicken Loans National 2018 Final Leaderboard
1. Francesco Molinari -21
2. Ryan Armour -13
3. Sung Kang -12
T4. Abraham Ancer -11
T4. Tiger Woods -11
T6. Bronson Burgoon -10
T6. Beau Hossler -10
T8. Brian Gay -9
T8. Chesson Hadley -9
T8. Andrew Landry -9
T8. Ryan Palmer -9
Joaquin Niemann’s final round 5-under par 65, gives him 321 non-member FedEx Cup points and 12 of the last 16 rounds under par… Doc Redman eagle on the par-4 first hole helped him post a final round 64 to move from T69 to T32, his best finish in his fifth career PGA TOUR start.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 1, 2018
Unsurprisingly, the par-4 11th hole played hardest for the third time in four days this time at 4.500, the toughest to par all tournament long. The hole averaged a 4.314 score. The par-4 14th hole had a clean sweep for easiest hole this week with a 3.514 total Sunday and 3.595 total overall. The 70.041 average score was also the highest of the week, but there were three bogey-free rounds in Francesco Molinari (62), Doc Redman (64) and Sung Kang (64).
Chris Pohl also helped with this article