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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2006 > European Tour > Telecom Italia Open > Round 4


Local favourite Francesco Molinari claims win

Francesco Molinari ended a 26-year wait for a home winner when he captured the Italian Open on Sunday 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.

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 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 Britain, 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 $295,000 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 the winner, "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 I would do it this year. I think we (Edoardo) are equal now. I had to win something to make it 1-1 and now we need to go and score a few more goals."

Sandelin's prize of $165,000 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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