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Sunday, 22 July 2018
Francesco Molinari  (Getty Images)
Francesco Molinari (Getty Images)

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  • Francesco Molinari - the 2018 Open Champion
  • Francesco Molinari

Francesco Molinari became the first Italian to win a Major as he claimed a thrilling 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie.

The 35 year old arrived on the east coast of Scotland in sensational form, having won two and finished runner-up twice in his last five events.

And the Ryder Cup star made it three wins from six starts with the biggest victory of his career after brilliant display of controlled golf around the wind-swept links, birdieing the last for a closing 69 and eight under par total.

“What a week,” said Molinari. “Obviously it’s incredible to stand here between all these people. 

“There are a lot of people I should thank – first of all my family for the support they give me when I travel around the world; my wife is a really big part of the team. 

“Each of my coaches have been a massive part of the journey to get here so thanks for your work. The volunteers and fans here make it possible - it truly is the best atmosphere in golf.

“I think it will take a long time for this 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.”

Molinari made no bogeys over the weekend – a feat he also achieved over the weekend in winning the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club earlier in the year, while his Quicken Loans National triumph came on the back of a solitary dropped shot over the weekend.

I felt like I was ready for it - ​Francesco Molinari

Starting the final round three shots behind co-leaders Kevin Kisner, Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth, Molinari plotted his way round with 13 consecutive pars at the start of his round.

Remarkably that saw him move into a share of the lead as the other leading contenders struggled to deal with the most testing conditions of the week.

Initially it had looked as though Molinari’s playing partner Tiger Woods was on course for a 15th Major Championship a decade after landing his 14th.

The American birdied the fourth and sixth to hold the outright lead on seven under, but double bogeyed the 11th after finding rough from the tee, clattering his second into a crowd of spectators and duffing his first chip.

That may not have been a fatal blow, but when Woods compounded the error with a bogey on the 12th it left him with too much to do over the notoriously difficult closing holes.

By contrast, Molinari gained his first shot of the day at the par-five 14th and, just as crucially, holed clutch par putts on the 15th and 16th.

With Schauffele recovering from four dropped shots in three holes on the front nine with birdies at the tenth and 14th to join him on seven under, Molinari struck a perfect drive at the last, pitched to within five feet, and birdied.

Schauffele then found trouble on the 17th, eventually running up a bogey which left him needing to hole his approach to the last in order to force a play-off, but his effort from 136 yards pulled up 20 feet short.

Earlier, Justin Rose (69) and Rory McIlroy (70) – both of whom eagled the 14th – had made a thrilling dart through the field on the back nine to set the clubhouse target at six under, a total which proved enough for a share of second, along with Kisner – who dropped three shots in the first three holes on the way to a 74 – and Schauffele (74).

Woods birdied the 14th to finish in a share of sixth on five under along with England’s Eddie Pepperell, who set the early benchmark with a sensational 67, and Kevin Chappell (73). Defending champion Spieth failed to make a birdie, with a penalty drop from a gorse bush on the sixth leading to a double bogey in a round of 76.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1MOLINARI, FrancescoITA18-8
T2ROSE, JustinENG18-6
T2MCILROY, RoryNIR18-6
T2KISNER, KevinUSA18-6
T2SCHAUFFELE, XanderUSA18-6
T6PEPPERELL, EddieENG18-5

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