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Shanghai: Italy’s Francesco Molinari shrugged off the pressure from world-number one Lee Westwood to complete a wire-to-wire victory at the US$7 million WGC-HSBC Champions on Sunday.


The Italian carded a flawless five-under-par 67 for a four-day total of 19-under-par 269 to land his first victory since he last triumphed at the Italian Open in 2006.


World number one Westwood, who matched Molinari’s final round 67, will continue to stay at the summit of the game after taking second place with his 270 total while Scotland’s Richie Ramsay posted a 71 to take a share of third place alongside England’s Luke Donald on matching 279s.


Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy closed with his week’s best score of 67 to take fifth place while world number two Tiger Woods and three-time Major winner Ernie Els of South Africa are among the seven players bunched in equal sixth on 281.


It was the Italian who stole the limelight at the Sheshan International Golf Club after so much had been made about the tussle for the number one world ranking this week.


Molinari, who became the first wire-to-wire winner in the history of the WGC-HSBC Champions, maintained his composure all week to end his four year title drought.


“I'm obviously amazed with the way I played, and you know, to have the number one player in the world trailing you by one shot, it's not easy,” said Molinari.


“I was under pressure all the time, pretty much from the first round. I'm just really, really happy.  It's been a long way coming.  But a lot of people told me, "If you have to wait this long, it's going to be a special one, and in the end, they were probably right,” added the Italian.


Play was suspended for about an hour due to heavy fog in the morning. But once it commenced, it was Molinari who fired the first salvo with three birdies in his first five holes. He carded another birdie on the eighth hole to reach the turn in 34.


Meanwhile Westwood also got off well by marking his card with four birdies in his outward-nine.


However when the Englishman birdied his 10th hole to move within one shot of Molinari, it was left to the birdie at the par-four 16th which would proved decisive for the Italian.


“I think the turning point was definitely at the 16th hole. It was probably the second shot that I hit to put Lee under pressure. His chip wasn't easy already, and with my ball close to the hole, it made it even tougher for him,” said Molinari.


Westwood was left to rue yet another near-miss in a high-profile tournament, but will have the consolation of knowing that his week's work will see his lead at the top of the official world golf rankings increase.


“I hit a lot of good shots and a couple of poor ones today.  I also had a bit of bad luck. It was one of those things.  I mean, 18‑under par and nine shots clear of the third is never too bad,” said Westwood.


“I just needed the breaks to win and but didn't happen. It was all about trying to win this week.  The rankings come as a consequence of playing well, and I'm playing well and I know I am.  Today is just very typical of how I've played for the last two years,” added the world number one.


Asian Tour GolfGreedy,com 

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