Runners-up Francesco Molinari and Patrick Reed make major breakthroughs at US PGA Championship
Best ever finishes for the pair at Quail Hollow
Italy’s Francesco Molinari and American Patrick Reed achieved their best major finishes Sunday by sharing second place at the US PGA Championship, although it was bittersweet not bringing home the title.
Reed and Molinari each fired four-under par 67s in the final round at Quail Hollow to join South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, in second on six-under 278, two strokes behind US winner Justin Thomas.
Molinari, 34, and Reed, 27, were both five strokes off the pace after 54 holes but battled from behind before late birdies blunted their charge.
“Just one of those where I got myself too far behind and just couldn’t claw back enough,” Reed said. “I could claw back to get a finish but not where I wanted to be.”
World number 21 Molinari’s best prior showing in 33 major starts was a share of ninth at the 2013 British Open. But to be in a five-way share of the lead with three holes to play after following a second-round 64 with a 74 was a career highlight.
“It was great,” Molinari said. “Yesterday I had a really bad start and it was pretty hard to recover from that. So that adds to the satisfaction after today.
“It would have been nice to start the day maybe a couple of shots closer to the leaders, but it was great getting to the last three holes tied for the lead. It’s what you practice for and what you train for. Hopefully I’ll get more soon.”
Reed, ranked 28th, managed his first major top-10 showing and said he was shocked that contending in a major felt no different than a regular event.
“It felt good getting myself in position. I was surprised that it didn’t feel any different than a normal tournament,” Reed said. “I was just out there trying to make as many birdies as possible. I felt like I went out there, I made enough birdies, but I had too many bogeys.”
Reed followed bogeys at the second and fifth holes with back-to-back birdies each time, then made three birdies in six holes through the par-5 15th to move one off the lead.
“My speed was great today. Felt like I was reading putts really well. Just the ball was millimetres off,” Reed said. “To be as far back as I was coming in, you have to make every one of them. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that and that’s why I’m disappointed rather than sitting here and really having a chance to win.”
Molinari is a four-time European Tour winner but hasn’t taken a title outside his homeland since the 2012 Spanish Open, although he was runner-up at this year’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, two strokes behind winner Alex Noren.
In this near miss, Molinari sandwiched four birdies in five holes between bogeys at 10 and 16 that proved his undoing.
“I gave it my best and I’m very happy with what I did,” Molinari said. “Just had it rolling pretty much all day. It was a shame to bogey the 10th after a good tee shot, but the reaction after that was very good, birdieing four of the next five holes.”
And Molinari had never seen a major course so difficult.
“When you play a course this tough, margins are tight,” Molinari said. “This is probably one of the toughest courses I’ve seen. The greens were extremely fast. The rough is really thick. There’s water in play. It’s long. I mean, there’s nothing really easy about it.”
And like the Italian, Reed sees only good things coming from the inspiring finish at Quail Hollow.
“What I loved to see was when I got in contention, when I went on that run to get myself actually in the golf tournament, I didn’t feel any different,” Reed said. “I didn’t feel any pressure.”