SEVILLE, Spain (AP) -Francesco Molinari won the Spanish Open by three strokes on Sunday to become the first Italian champion, shooting a 5-under 67 in the final round of the 100th edition.
The 29-year-old Molinari totaled 8-under 280 at Real de Golf de Sevilla for his third European Tour title, holding off three players. He will now head to the Players Championship in the United States in peak form.
"Today's round was one of the best I played with conditions easier than the first three rounds," Molinari said. "I just played really good golf all week but did struggle yesterday with the pace of the greens and the wind.
"It's huge, it's huge just to win any tournament on the European Tour, but one with the history of this one, in the year of the centenary, is something fantastic."
Molinari spent an hour-long putting session with former player Mark Roe before his teeing off, a move that helped turn around his fortunes on the greens.
"I just went out today knowing that if the putter was a little bit hotter I had a chance," Molinari said. "So I just tried to stay calm and I got off to a great start and hit the ball very well, so everything felt easy, even if it wasn't."
Monday will mark the one-year anniversary of the death of pasthree time Spanish Open winner Seve Ballesteros.
"It's a very special time to win in Spain," Molinari said.
Spanish pair Pablo Larrazabal (71) and Alejandro Canizares (69) and Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen (69) were next.
Matteo Manassero (70) had a share of seventh place. the Italian will have to wait until Monday's readjustment of the world rankings to check if he has moved back inside the top 60 to qualify for the U.S. Open next month.
Manassero arrived in Seville ranked 64th in the world but needed to finish seventh on his own to be assured of qualifying.
Third-round leader Simon Dyson shot a 76 to finish in a share of 12th place.