European Golf Tour
Molinari fends off Westwood for HSBC title

Shanghai, China (Sports Network) - Francesco Molinari closed with a five-under 67 Sunday to hold off Lee Westwood and win the WGC-HSBC Champions.

Molinari finished at 19-under-par 269, one stroke off the tournament scoring record. This was his first World Golf Championships title and second victory on the European Tour.

"I am proud of the way I played and the way I handled myself today on the golf course," Molinari stated. "Lee is the No. 1 player in the world and he was playing fantastic golf. It was real pressure all the time. It was a great finish in the end."

Westwood, who took over the top spot in the world rankings earlier this week, also closed with a 67 to take second at minus-18. Westwood had an eagle putt on the par-five 18th at Sheshan International Golf Club to force a playoff, but missed it left and settled for a tap-in birdie.

Luke Donald (73) and Richie Ramsay (71) shared third place at nine-under-par 279. Rory McIlroy fired a five-under 67 to take fifth at minus-eight.

Tiger Woods, who fell to No. 2 in the world behind Westwood, posted a four- under 68 to share sixth place with six others.

Phil Mickelson, the 2009 champion, managed a one-over 73 to finish in a tie for 41st at one-over-par 289.

Molinari, who turns 28 on Monday, led by one at the start of the round. He pushed his lead to two with a 20-foot birdie putt on the second. Molinari and Westwood both converted birdie chances from inside 10 feet at the third.

The Italian rolled in a 12-footer for birdie at the fifth, but Westwood matched him with an eight-foot birdie putt. The duo, who played in the final group with their Ryder Cup teammate, Donald, made birdie putts of a similar length at the eighth.

Molinari made the turn with a two-stroke lead at 18-under. Westwood closed within one shot with a birdie on the 10th. Molinari scrambled to seven consecutive pars from nine to 15.

At the par-four 16th, Molinari knocked his approach shot within six feet and converted the birdie putt to push his lead back to two strokes.

Westwood drove near the green at 16, but had to chip over a bunker. He left his chip short in the rough above the sand, then played his third on to the green. He drained the par-saver, but fell two back when Molinari made his birdie putt.

"I didn't play a good lay up off the tee, but hit a great wedge shot from there," Molinari said. "Obviously, that put Lee under a little bit of pressure and his chip wasn't easy at all."

Molinari just missed a 17-foot birdie putt on 17. He two-putted for par at the last, but the victory wasn't secure until Westwood missed his eagle putt.

"We were really just watching each other because the other guys were seven or eight shots behind. We were trying to birdie every hole because we were both playing really well," Molinari stated. "We knew that pars weren't going to be good enough."

Westwood ran off seven straight pars from 11 to 17. He hit the green in two at the par-five closing hole, but had a difficult downhill putt. The Englishman lagged the putt within tap-in range, but the birdie left him one shot back.

Woods shared sixth place with several big names. He ended alongside Paul Casey (70), Ernie Els (73), Retief Goosen (68), Fredrik Andersson Hed (70), Richard Green (68) and Peter Hanson (69) at minus-seven.

NOTES: Molinari was the 17th different player to win a WGC title...He will move inside the top 15 in the world rankings thanks to the victory...Molinari was the first player to win this tournament in wire-to-wire fashion...The start of the final round was delayed 75 minutes due to heavy fog...The European Tour remains in Asia next week for the Singapore Open, where Ian Poulter is the defending champion...The PGA Tour completes its Fall Series with the Children's Miracle Network Classic...Stephen Ames will not defend his title due to an injury.

11/07 04:59:23 ET