x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Molinari brothers now in line for Ryder Cup

Edoardo joined his brother Francesco as a European Tour winner yesterday, setting up the possibility of both Italians making their Ryder Cup debuts in October.

LOCH LOMOND, Scotland // Edoardo Molinari, the Italian, joined his brother Francesco as a European Tour winner yesterday, setting up the possibility of them both making their Ryder Cup debuts in October. With Francesco looking on - he finished fourth with two others - Edoardo, 29, won his duel with Darren Clarke to become Scottish Open champion. Edoardo Molinari, one ahead after his dazzling third-round 63, closed with a 74 in much tougher conditions and, with a 12-under-par total of 272, took the £500,000 (Dh2.77 million) first prize by three shots.

The compensation for runner-up Clarke was that, with Molinari already exempt for this week's Open, he took the one St Andrews spot up for grabs. Clarke, 41, was always fighting an uphill battle from the moment he tried to play his ball out of the mud and water by the third green, but needed three attempts at it and took a double-bogey. No brothers have played together in the Ryder Cup since Bernard and Geoffrey Hunt in 1963, back in the days when it was just Britain against America.

But Francesco, who a week ago lost a play-off for the French Open to Miguel-Angel Jimenez, moves up from eighth to fifth in the points race. And Edoardo, who first hit the headlines by winning the US Amateur title five years ago, is up from 11th to sixth on the world list from which the first four members of Colin Montgomerie's side will come. With Francesco having won the 2006 Italian Open, Edoardo's victory makes them the third brothers to take Tour titles - and this just eight months after they combined to win the World Cup in China.

Seve and Manuel Ballesteros did it and so did their fellow Spaniards, Antonio and German Garrido. Molinari was five clear after five holes, bogeyed the next two but then regained that advantage when Clarke dropped a shot on the short 11th and he made a 15-foot birdie putt three holes later. Five ahead with four to play, his victory looked like a done deal, but a terrible drive down the 415-yard 15th led to a double-bogey six.

The gap came down to two when Clarke made a five-foot birdie putt on the short 17th, but he was the one to bogey the last. By then, though, he knew he had edged the Open place from France's Raphael Jacquelin, who came through for third with a joint best-of-the-day 68. Molinari, back ahead of his brother on the world rankings now, said: "This is very special. On Tuesday we were talking about the fact that we had never played well in the same week and finally it's happened. Now I hope Francesco wins next week.

"I was very nervous, to be honest. The last few holes are very difficult and Darren hit a great shot on 17. My five-iron there was probably my best shot and the drive on 18 was great." Said Clarke: "The Open is a consolation prize, but if somebody had said at the start of the week that I would finish second I think I would have taken it. "Hopefully I can reproduce more of my first three rounds than the last one."

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