Jason Day proved yet again that he is Australia’s man for a major, a final round of 3-under 68 propelling him to a top-20 finish at The Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland.
When the final round of the year’s third major got underway hopes were high that Adam Scott could build on his third round of 68 and mount another challenge for the Claret Jug but a 2-over par 73 saw the Queenslander drop five places to finish alongside Day in a tie for 17th.
The cooperative conditions that had greeted the field for the opening three days were much more curmudgeonly on Sunday as Carnoustie flexed its considerable clout over the losing 18 holes.
The sporting world almost went into meltdown when Tiger Woods claimed the outright lead shortly after making the turn but his pursuit of a 15th major title began to unravel when he made double bogey at the par-4 11th and followed it up with a further dropped shot at the demanding 12th.
For a long time Eddie Pepperell’s mark of 5-under looked like taking some catching as the final groups faltered before it was topped by both Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy at 6-under.
But the only flawless final round belonged to Italian Francesco Molinari who birdied the 13th and 18th holes to complete an extraordinary seven weeks and claim the first major championship of his career and the first by an Italian golfer.
Even par through his opening two rounds, Day began the final round one shot over par following a Saturday 72 and dropped a further shot to the field with a bogey at the second hole.
He got that right back at the short par-4 third and then added a second birdie two holes later.
But it was a run of three birdies on the trot from the 13th to 15th holes that saw the former US PGA champion vault up the leaderboard, a bogey at the 72nd hole a sour note on which to finish.
Where Day was able to make birdie at the 320-yard third a double bogey got Scott’s final round off to the worst possible start.
Additional bogeys at the fifth and eighth holes saw Scott complete the front nine in 4-over 40 before three birdies and a further bogey rounding out a final round of 2-over 73.
Following his third round of 68 on Saturday Scott spoke of the improvements in his game since missing the cut at the US Open at Shinnecock last month.
“From where it was at the U.S. Open, it's progressed a lot,” Scott said.
“Technically, it's much, much better. I'm seeing far less of the kind of bad shots that I was seeing there.
“My bad shots are just a bit mis-hit, they go pretty much down the line. But they were a bit sideways at the US Open.”
Australian Open champion Cameron Davis completed a memorable major debut with a 1-under par round of 70 to climb 22 spots up the Sunday leaderboard to finish in a tie for 39th.
Fellow British Open rookie Lucas Herbert completed a week he will never forget in somewhat disappointing fashion, double bogeys on the ninth and 18th holes the major contributors to a final round of 6-over 77 and a tie for 51st.
Having birdied four of his opening eight holes of the championship Marc Leishman was unable to follow on from his third round of 69, dropping four shots in three holes to close out his front nine as he signed for a 5-over 76 and 60th position.
In what has been a difficult year thus far Brett Rumford rounded out an excellent week with a 3-over 74 with Cameron Smith’s round of 77 seeing him finish The Open in 78th position.
Ryan Fox was the sole Kiwi to qualify for the weekend, a fourth round of 70 resulting in a finish of tied for 39th.
Matt Jones and Michael Hendry both missed the cut.
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