With his fellow competitors beset and bothered by steady winds that steadily strafed Carnoustie Golf Links, Francesco Molinari avoided any unnecessary drama to post a bogey-free 69 on Sunday and win the 147th Open Championship.
Molinari emerged from a six-way tie at 6-under when he birdied the 14th hole and iced the Claret Jug when he birdied the difficult 18th to finish at 7-under 277. Molinari had weekend rounds of 65-69 and finished the championship without a bogey over his final 37 holes. With the win, he becomes the first Italian to claim a major championship.
“I missed a few shots,” said Molinari, who only hit 40 percent of fairways. “But I was able to get up and down pretty well. It’s incredible to go bogey-free on a course like this.”
Molinari remained the hottest player in the world. He won for the third time in his last six starts, adding to victories at the Quicken Loans National—where he became the first Italian winner on the PGA TOUR since Toney Penna in 1947—and the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship. In his last three events, Molinari has a 66.7 stroke average and shot nine of 12 rounds in the 60s.
“I was coming in with some good golf,” Molinari said. “My record here was terrible. I tried my best to focus on it and concentrate on playing good golf.”
Tiger Woods, a three-time Open champion, played alongside Molinari on Sunday and came away impressed.
“The way Francesco played today was beautiful,” Woods said. “His game was really on point.”
Four players tied for second at 6-under 278: Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele. Tied for sixth at 5-under 279 were Woods (71), Kevin Chappell (73) and Eddie Pepperell, who shot a 67 in the morning wave.
The biggest buzz surrounded Woods, who donned his traditional Sunday outfit of a red shirt and black pants. He charged up the leaderboard with a 34 on the front. He got up and down from bunkers for par on No. 8 and 9, which allowed him to surge into first place.
But the lead did not last. Woods made a double-bogey on the 11thafter finding a fairway bunker and a bogey at 11 dropped him to 4 under. He was unable to recover from the deficit, although he remained in the hunt with a birdie at the 14thand made a clutch par put at 17. It was the best finish for Woods in a major championship since he tied for sixth at the 2013 Open Championship.
“I’m a little ticked off at myself,” Woods said. “I could have done something. A bunch of guys had a chance to win and I was one of them.”
Schauffele and Kisner, who began the day tied with Jordan Spieth for the lead, both shot 74s. Schauffele dropped out of the lead with two bogeys and a double-bogey on Nos. 5-7, but regained his composure with a pair of birdies on the back nine. He was essentially eliminated with a bogey at No. 17. Kisner, who held at least a share of the lead in the first three rounds, shot a 40 on the front nine, which included a double-bogey on the second hole.
Rose, who birdied the 18thhole on Friday to make the cut on the number, had weekend rounds of 64-69. When he birdied the final hole for the fourth straight round, he reestablished a target score of 6-under. That was soon matched by McIlroy, who eagled the 14thhole to reach 6-under, but parred the final four holes and settled for a 70.
Spieth, the defending champion, lost the lead after a bogey at No. 5 and a double-bogey at No. 6. A three-putt par at No. 14 and a bogey at No. 15 removed any chance to retain the Claret Jug. He failed to make a birdie all day and wound up shooting 76, leaving him tied for ninth with Tony Finau (71) and Matt Kuchar (72).
“I hit two balls in the bunker and one in a bush,” Spieth said. “It just wasn’t my day.”
Sam Locke of Scotland, 19, was the only amateur to make the cut and was awarded the silver medal. The Scottish Amateur champion, and protégé of 1999 Open winner Paul Lawrie, shot 9-over 293.
Molinari, 35, is the oldest winner of a major championship since Sergio Garcia won the 2017 Masters at age 37. It was his 11th start at the Open Championship, with a tie for ninth in 2013 his best effort. He missed the cut when the Open was conducted at Carnoustie in 2007.
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