Molinari returns to winning ways in Spain


SPANISH OPEN:Francesco Molinari finally returned to winning ways yesterday – and did it with one of the finest rounds of his career. The Italian Ryder Cup star produced a best-of-the-week 65, seven under par, to turn a four-stroke deficit into a three-shot win at the Spanish Open in Seville.

Molinari was ranked 14th in the world when he beat Lee Westwood at the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai nearly 18 months ago, but this was his first success since then.

While he celebrated his third European Tour victory, however, overnight leader Simon Dyson was left to reflect on a 76 that dealt a big blow to his hopes of a Ryder Cup debut in September. Nobody in the top 50 scored worse on the final day, Dyson falling all the way to joint 12th – and that after starting with two birdies.

Dane Soren Kjeldsen and Spaniards Alejandro Canizares and Pablo Larrazabal finished joint second, but Molinari out-played them all.“I knew I was playing well. I just needed some putts to drop,” said the 29-year-old, who moves back into the world’s top 30. In much easier conditions – the first three rounds were played in wind and rain – Dyson made quick amends for his closing double bogey on Saturday by sinking an 18-foot putt on the first and then holing out from sand at the next. But it all started to go wrong for the York golfer again when he ran up a six at the long fifth and further bogeys came on the seventh, eighth, 13th, 15th and 17th. In contrast Molinari birdied three of the first five, then took the outright lead by two-putting the 545-yard ninth to complete an outward 32.

Gareth Maybin closed with a 67 for a total of 286 and a share of fourth place. Peter Lawrie shot a 73 to finish on 288 while Simon Thornton ended on 292 after a closing 72.

WOMEN’S SCOTTISH OPEN:Scotland’s Carly Booth claimed her maiden women’s European Tour title with victory at the Scottish Open by one shot from Florentyna Parker and Frances Bondad in East Lothian.

The 19-year-old Booth wrapped up the weekend with a round of 71 to finish four under par in difficult conditions, and that proved to be enough when Parker missed a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to miss out on a play-off.

“I’m still 19 and I’ve just won my first Ladies European Tour event so I’m just happy,” said Booth. She began the day in a three-way tie with Parker and Stacy Lee Bregman and with the near-freezing conditions continuing to make things tough on the course, none of them could make a decisive break early on.

Booth nosed in front with a birdie on the 11th, but Parker replied with a birdie one hole later. Things turned in Booth’s favour on the 16th where she recovered from a tough tee shot into the rough to record a par, while Parker – who looked to have an easier run after reaching the green in two – missed a putt and dropped a shot. Booth found a bunker on the 18th but rescued another par to sneak the win.

“It was only about two feet and I only just got it in the hole. I must have just felt the nerves there,” Booth said of the final putt.

“I was fine all the way up until that putt, put it that way. I just didn’t feel anything until I holed that putt because I realised, ‘This is it!’ I thought it was going to come up short. It was the longest two foot putt I’ve ever had.”