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Edoardo Molinari claims first European Tour title

Italian Edoardo Molinari claimed his first European tour title when he won the Scottish Open on Sunday with a closing three-over-par 74 in bad weather at Loch Lomond.

Molinari's 12-under-par 272 total gave him victory by three strokes over Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke, who led for the first two rounds. Clarke's 76 was still enough to earn him a place in this week's British Open one stroke ahead of Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin.

Jacquelin holed a 50-foot putt on the last to total eight-under while Clarke slipped back to nine-under by three-putting the 18th.

The winner's younger brother Francesco (72), with whom he won the World Cup of golf last year, took a share of fourth place, five shots adrift of his sibling, along with Swede Peter Hedblom (72) and Scotland's Stephen Gallacher (68).

Starting only a stroke ahead of Clarke, Edoardo Molinari soon broke four clear of the Ulsterman, who ran up a double-bogey on the long third. Clarke took three strokes to emerge from a hazard.

When brother Francesco, beginning the round five strokes in arrears of his sibling, also bogeyed the hole by straying on to the loch beach, the outcome of the tournament was in little doubt.

Edoardo made mistakes in strong winds and occasional heavy rain, running up a double-bogey on 15 after hitting into the woods, to give himself a nervy finale before picking up the $743,500 first prize.

With it came a vault up the world rankings to just outside the top 20 and sixth place in Europe's Ryder Cup world points table, now only two places adrift of automatic qualification for Colin Montgomerie's team. Francesco has climbed to fifth place in the overall European Cup table, with nine players qualifying automatically.

Edoardo, 29, the 2005 U.S. Amateur champion, had great success on the lower-ranked Challenge Tour last year, winning three times and totting up record winnings.

He has now followed on from 27-year-old Francesco's 2006 Italian Open success.

"This was the best 74 of my life," the winner told reporters. "When I saw the conditions I felt you could have shot any number."

All week Edoardo had played down his Ryder Cup chances but he now believes he and Francesco could be the first brothers to play in the match against the United States.

"Today is a great push towards the Ryder Cup team and I think Francesco and I can make a great pairing," he added. "He's a great driver and I'm a great putter."

Clarke's old Achilles heel, his putting, bedevilled him but the Ulsterman still had his best result for two years.

"Getting into the Open is a good consolation prize but given the way I played in the first two rounds I am a little bit down."



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