Scotland – On a day when many of game’s biggest names looked poised to grab the Claret Jug and the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” at Carnoustie Golf Links, it was an often overlooked Italian that continued his hot hand. Francesco Molinari, who just a few weeks ago won Tiger’s tournament (Quicken Loans, which was his first career win on the PGA Tour), and back in May he out- played Rory McIlroy to win Europe’s biggest non-major, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, but somehow was still under the radar at the 147th Open. Molinari was steady in rounds 1&2, but was back in the pack – making the cut at EVEN par after rounds of 70-72.
On the weekend, the 35 year old Italian outlasted the field of “A Listers” playing flawless links golf, going bogey free over the final 36 holes. On Saturday when the conditions were calm Francesco posted 65. When the conditions stiffened on Sunday, Carnoustie showed its teeth with winds gusting well over 20 mph, but Molinari made clutch par saves all day on the toughest course in the Open rota. He was rock steady, starting out with 13 consecutive pars playing with Tiger Woods in the final round. Woods was the story early on, taking the solo lead after 54 hole leaders Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele faultered in the middle of the front nine. Tiger stumbled at the eleventh and twelfth, and then Molinari birdied the par 5 fourteenth and knocked it stiff on the 72nd hole to cap off the win by two over Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner.
The 35 year-old Italian saw the players with the early tee times battling the conditions and prepared himself, “I knew it was going to tough,” said Molinari. “I knew everyone was going to struggle a little bit and I could use it to my advantage. That putt on the last, I’ll never forget.”
Jordan Spieth struggled shooting a final round 76, finishing tied for ninth at -4.