LUSS, Scotland – Edoardo Molinari of Italy claimed his first European Tour victory at the Scottish Open, shooting a 3-over 74 to beat Darren Clarke by three shots Sunday.
Scoring was very high after a long spell of rain at Loch Lomond, where Molinari finished at 12-under 272.
Clarke, of Northern Ireland, had begun the day a shot behind Molinari but had a 76. Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin closed with a 68 to place third at 8 under.
“When we teed off in the wind and rain I felt I didn’t have a chance because Darren is such a great player when it’s tough like that,” the 29-year-old Molinari said. “But after making a birdie at the third I increased that lead and from then I played conservatively, concentrating on hitting fairways, and I am proud of the way I did it.”
Molinari’s younger brother Francesco Molinari (72), Stephen Gallacher of Scotland (68) and Peter Hedblom of Sweden (72) trailed Jacquelin by a stroke. John Daly had a 77 and finished 14 shots off the pace.
The victory lifted Molinari into sixth place in the world ranking points table that will provide the first four members of this year’s European Ryder Cup team.
He is 11 points behind Ian Poulter in the fourth qualifying spot and there is now a real prospect of two brothers playing alongside each other in the Cup at Celtic Manor for the first time.
His younger brother, Francesco, also played in the final group, but faded from joint third place at the start of the day to joint fourth after 72.
However, his $188,000 winnings lifted him into fifth automatic place overall in the European qualifying table on the basis of money earned on the European Tour.
“To be able to make my Ryder Cup debut would be fantastic and to play alongside my brother would be even better,” Edoardo Molinari said.
Clarke’s challenge for his first victory in Europe in nearly two years faded soon after the start of the final round.
At the par-5 third hole his sliced second shot ended up on the edge of a pond at the bottom of a steep slope by the green. His first two attempts to play up the slope ended with the ball rolling back to his feet.
As Clarke ran up a double bogey seven, Molinari sank a five-foot birdie putt and the gap between the two leaders expanded to four shots. It would never be completely closed.
Clarke’s consolation was that in finishing second he claimed a late entry into the British Open, which starts at St. Andrews on Thursday.