Dramatic Cup win for Italy

Back nine birdies crucial for Molinari brothers

Last Updated: 29/11/09 1:13pm

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Italy have won the Omega Mission Hills World Cup for the first time after brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari overhauled Ireland's Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell to win by one shot.

Final-round leaderboard: Italy -29 Ireland -28 Sweden -28 England -26 Japan -22 Australia -21

The Molinaris carded a four-under-par 68 in Sunday's final-round foursomes in Shenzhen, China, for a 29 under total, with defending champions Sweden finishing second alongside Ireland after they respectively carded 69 and 70.

Younger brother Francesco crucially holed three consecutive birdie putts on the back nine before European Tour Challenge Tour number one Edoardo, who also won last week in Japan, tapped in at the last.

McIlroy and McDowell, who were chasing a wire-to-wire victory having led since the opening round, had earlier stretched their overnight lead to three shots on the front nine after making four consecutive birdies.

After a second bogey of the day at eight, they then held a two-shot lead over Italy and Sweden's Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson at the turn.

Sweden, playing in the group ahead of Ireland and Italy, trimmed the lead to one before McIlroy missed a two-foot par putt at 10 as Ireland suddenly slipped into a three-way tie for the lead.

Having moved alongside Ireland and Sweden with a birdie at 11, Francesco Molinari then holed a mammoth 30-foot putt at 12 to push Italy into a one-shot lead.

Advantage stretched

The advantage was soon stretched to two with five to play as Francesco added a third consecutive birdie a hole later as McDowell missed an eight-foot birdie putt for Ireland.

Sweden ended a run of three straight pars with a fifth birdie of the day at 15 to trim Italy's lead to one before Ireland's first gain of the back nine arrived at the 15th.

They therefore joined Sweden at 28 under, with Italy unable take advantage on the lucrative signature hole.

Sweden proved unable to make further gains over their last three holes, however, with Stenson agonisingly seeing a long birdie putt at last roll around the cup.

Italy therefore headed up the 18th with a one-shot lead as McIlroy held his nerve to convert a six foot par putt at 17.

With Ireland safely on the green at the last, Edoardo Molinari pushed his approach from the rough into the greenside bunker.

But brother Francesco chipped out to within three feet and, after McDowell agonisingly left a birdie putt, which would have earned a play-off, inches short, Edoardo held his nerve to seal a memorable win.

Francesco Molinari, who claimed seven top-10 finishes this season, was delighted with the way he and his brother were able to clinch victory.

"It's been a tough day and we have been playing against some of the best golfers in the world. It was really tough until the last, but it feels even better when it is like that," he said.

"It's really great for Italy. I think we deserved it as we attacked from the first day with every putt and every shot and we tried to make as many birdies as possible.

"I was lucky to hole two big putts on 12 and 13 which were probably the key moment and we just had to hang in there and hope for the best."

England fourth

England's Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher finished fourth at 26-under-par courtesy of an impressive bogey-free eight under 64.

Hiroyuki Fujita and Ryuji Imada took fifth place for Japan, a further four shots back, after a 69, with Australia's Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby finishing sixth.

South Africa, Wales, Korea, Germany and the USA, whose pairing of Nick Watney and John Merrick shot a brilliant bogey-free final round 10-under-par 62, rounded out the top 10 at 20-under-par.

However, Spain's poor week ended with a two over 74 as world number eight Sergio Garcia and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano finished on a total of just seven-under-par.

Scotland propped up the table a further three shots adrift.

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Mission Hills World Cup 2009

One-stroke lead: McDowell and McIlroy

Ireland's lead cut to one

This year's World Cup lies in the balance after Sweden and Italy reduced Ireland's lead to just one stroke after Saturday's fourballs.

McDowell (L) and McIlroy: three-shot lead in China

Irish duo maintain advantage

Ireland retained their three-shot lead after day two of the World Cup at Mission Hills Golf Club following a 68 in Friday's foursomes.

World Cup collated

All the latest scores and totals from the World Cup of Golf at Mission Hills Golf Club in China.

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