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Italians rally for first World Cup title



Shenzhen, China (Sports Network) - The Italian brother combination of Edoardo and Francesco Molinari rallied with a four-under 68 in Sunday's foursomes competition to win the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.

The Molinari brothers finished at 29-under-par 259. This was the first time an Italian team has won this event.

Ireland had held the lead after each of the first three rounds, but Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell could only manage a two-under 70 in the final round's alternate-shot format to end one back at minus-28. They shared second place with Sweden's Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson.

The Swedes, who won this crown in 2008, closed with a three-under 69.

Each of the top three teams on the leaderboard owned the out-right lead at one point during the final round.

Ireland led at the outset, but dropped a shot on the third to slip to 25- under. That gave Sweden the lead. The Swedes two-putted for birdie on the par- five third to move to 26-under and they parred three in row from the fourth.

McDowell and McIlroy bounced back from their bogey with four straight birdies from the fourth. That moved them to 29-under, where they were two strokes clear of the Swedes, who had birdied the seventh before making bogey on No. 8.

The Italians got off to slow start with a birdie on the fifth. They could not save par from a bunker on the sixth to slip back to 25-under.

At the ninth on the Olazabal Course at Mission Hills Golf Club, the Molinari's started to make their run. Francesco rolled in a five-foot birdie effort to move them within two of Ireland, which saw its birdie run end with a bogey on No. 8.

The Italians two-putted for birdie on the par-five 11th to forge a three-way tie for the lead at 27-under after Ireland stumbled to a bogey on the 10th.

Francesco rolled in a long birdie putt on the 12th to give Italy its first lead of the round. He rolled in another birdie putt of a similar length on the 13th to push Italy's lead to two at 29-under.

Sweden birdied No. 11 to get to 27-under. After three consecutive pars, they two-putted for birdie on the 15th to move to 28-under. They finished there, ending their round with three straight pars. Stenson had a long birdie try at the last, but it lipped out.

"We had a great week, unfortunately my putter was cold today and that's what it comes down to in my book," Stenson said. "I hit a great putt on the last and it looked in most of the time and went down and came back up. That was for the playoff as it turned out, so a little bit of disappointment there, but I can't hold that responsible for the whole day. I had my chances and didn't take them."

Ireland, after making bogey on 10, parred the next four holes. They got up and down for birdie on the par-five 15th to get to 28-under.

With the Swedes already in the clubhouse, Italy and Ireland battled down the 17th and 18th holes.

On the par-three 17th, both teams got up and down for par as Italy stayed one up on Ireland and Sweden.

At the last, McIlroy knocked his approach onto the green, but was over 35 feet from the hole. Edoardo Molinari dropped his second into a greenside bunker.

Francesco Molinari hit a stellar bunker shot within three feet. McDowell had a chance to force a playoff with his birdie putt, but it stopped inches short of the hole.

"It has been a great week. Being in the hunt today was a really good feeling," McIlroy said. "It is a pity we weren't able to pull it off, but we both played pretty average today to be honest. We shot two-under, but it could have been a lot better."

Edoardo Molinari tapped in the Italians' par putt to seal the win.

"It was a tough day and we played 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," Francesco 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's Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher posted the second-best round of the day at eight-under 64. That helped them end alone in fourth at 26-under-par 262. Japan was four strokes back at 22-under 266, while Australia took sixth at minus-21.

John Merrick and Nick Watney fired a 10-under 62 for the United States on Sunday. That helped them jump 22 places into a share of seventh at 20-under- par 268. They were joined there by South Africa (71), Germany (65), Korea (68) and Wales (70).

11/29 04:28:03 ET

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