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Francesco Molinari edges out Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth to win the British Open

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Francesco Molinari has become the first Italian to lift a major after winning The Open Championship by two shots at Carnoustie.

The thirty five-year-old produced an error free final round of 69 in difficult conditions on the Scottish links course to finish eight under.

Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, Englishman Justin Rose and US pair Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele tied for second place, two shots back at six under par.

14-time-major winner Tiger Woods finished five under after leading midway through the round, whilst last year's champion Jordan Spieth finished on four under.

Molinari started the final day three shots adrift of overnight leaders Spieth, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele, but errors from the trio brought the Italian back into contention.

Finding himself level at six under at the top of the leaderboard with five other players, he continued playing cautiously, his steady golf eventually allowing him to pull away from his rivals on the back nine.

After hitting rounds of 70, 72 and a stunning 65 yesterday, Molinari, ranked 15th in the world, parred 16 holes on the final round, birdying the 14th and 18th.

Playing alongside Tiger Woods as the third to last round, he replaced Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy as clubhouse leader with a one shot lead over Schauffele at seven under.

But the American bogeyed the the 17th and, when he couldn’t score an eagle with his second shot of the par four 18th to force a play-off, Molinari celebrated winning the 147th Open Championship.

"It is absolutely amazing," Molinari said. "I think it will take a long time to sink in. It has been a great week.

"The course bit me a few times in the first two days, but to go bogey-free around this track at the weekend is incredible."

Analysis

Molinari had a relatively modest record at majors coming in to the tournament, his best finish, a tie for second at last year’s PGA Championships, being a happy anomaly amongst consistently disappointing displays.

The Italian however had entered a rich vein of form approaching the Open, claiming the PGA Championship at Wentworth on the European Tour and his maiden PGA Tour victory at the Quicken Loans Classic.

He was many’s outside pick, safely entering the weekend’s play on level par. Yesterday’s score of 65, one shot off Justin Rose’s record equalling tally of 64 propelled him into contention, although he was always the underdog to Kisner, Spieth and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood.

But while his rivals around him dropped shots, Molinari played a steady hand in windy conditions, finishing the tournament with just a single bogey.

His robotic putting and skill with the iron is where the Championship was won.


One of the biggest surprises to come out of Carnoustie was the fine stroke play of Tiger Woods, who lead for two holes in the final round.

The forty two-year-old has not won a major since the 2008 US Open and after a series of personal scandals and a serious back injury many questioned whether he would ever win one again.

Ranked 650th at the start of the year, Woods has temporarily silenced his critics, scoring his lowest 72-hole total at a major since the 2012 Open.

Chances of a home victory lied with Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose, the latter only just making the cut by sinking a birdie on the 18th in the second round.

Both players were far down the leaderboard until they each made an eagle at the par-five 14th to rise back into contention.

Their best opportunity was victory through a play-off at six under but once Molinari moved a shot clear that never looked likely.

 

Image rights - Wikimedia commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Francesco_Molinari_Round_4_Open_de_France_2013_t144344.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TigerWoodsOct2011.jpg 

And www.theopen.com - https://www.theopen.com/Leaderboard#!/traditional 

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