Francesco Molinari produced a magical display of links golf to become the first Italian to lift a Major at the 147th Open Championship and return to the top of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai Rankings.
The 35 year old came into the tournament in red-hot form having won two twice and finished runner up twice in his last five events. The BMW PGA Championship winner continued that fine run at Carnoustie Golf Links as he opened with rounds of 70 and 72 to put him in the mix heading into the weekend.
Two bogey-free rounds followed as he signed for a stunning 65 on moving day before producing a final round 69 in tricky conditions to lift the coveted Claret Jug. The victory sees him pick up 1,890,000 Race to Dubai points to climb from fourth place to first in the Race to Dubai Rankings with a season total of 4,234,946 points.
“Congratulations to Francesco on a spectacular win at the 147th Open Championship,” said Nick Tarratt, Director European Tour International, Dubai. “Francesco is a shining light on the European Tour and I’m sure his fellow peers will be ecstatic he has returned the Claret Jug to European soil. We can’t wait to welcome him back to Jumeirah Golf Estates for the DP World Tour Championship in November as he looks to seal his first Race to Dubai title.”
Molinari, who is one of only three golfers along with Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood to play in the DP World Tour Championship every year since its debut in 2009, started the final day three shots behind American’s Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner but as they struggled to get to grips with the windy conditions, Molinari reeled off 13 straight pars before making his first birdie of the day at the 14th to put him in command. Three more pars followed as he produced a putting masterclass before picking up his second shot of the day on the dreaded 18th to taste Major success for the first time in front of record breaking crowds in Angus, Scotland.
“What a fantastic week at Carnoustie,” said Molinari. “Obviously it’s incredible to stand here in front of all these people and be named Champion Golfer of the Year. I think it will take a long time for this victory to sink in. To go bogey-free at the weekend around a track like this, it’s very good. I was as calm as you can be in the final round in the Open. I felt like I was ready for it.”
England’s Justin Rose and Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy both finished in a share of second place just two behind Molinari. Both men receive 694,250 Race to Dubai points which sees Rose jump up 17 places to 14th on 1,466,141 points whilst three-time Race to Dubai winner McIlroy climbs up one place to fifth with 2,494,458 points.
Schauffele joined the two Europeans in a tie for second as the European Tour affiliate member sealed a maiden spot at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship after climbing from 41st to 18th on 1,296,309 points.
Meanwhile, Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen kept up his run of good form as he joined reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood in a tie for 12th. Olesen remains in seventh in the Rankings on 1,820,070 points whilst England’s Fleetwood drops to fourth with 2,628,364 points.
Reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed finished tied for 28th which caused the American to drop to second in the Race to Dubai Rankings with a season total of 2,923,726 points while Sweden’s Alex Noren completes the top three with 2,651,874 after finishing tied 17th.
The DP World Tour Championship, Dubai takes place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 15-18.