Molinari breaks U.S. stranglehold on majors

Marcus Newton
July 25, 2018

Woods claimed he did not realise he had a share of the lead during his thrilling third round at the Open at Carnoustie. Jordan Spieth was tied for the lead.

Molinari didn't drop a shot over the weekend at Carnoustie.

"I couldn't watch Xander play the last two holes, to be honest", he said. "But it's been the same the whole of my career". Still only 24, he already has won three majors and his name is the last one etched on the base of the silver Claret Jug.

And it wasn't an accident. This was his first British Open since missing the cut in 2015. All he did at the BMW PGA Championship was go head-to-head with McIlroy in the final round and beat him by two. They were last together three weeks ago when Woods presented him the trophy at the Quicken Loans National after Molinari shot 62 for an eight-shot victory.

Carnoustie tempered some of that confidence. He didn't make a bogey on the normally tough Carnoustie links.

He said: "I probably just didn't give myself enough time to regroup after a photographer was in a world of his own". "I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling".

A birdie at the 14th allowed him to hang around, but ultimately his even-par 71 to get in at 5 under was three shots short, as Francesco Molinari won at 8-under 276.

World number eight Rory McIlroy was an angry golfer after his British Open title charge stalled on Carnoustie's devilishly hard closing holes on Saturday.

When Schauffele followed Spieth's poor example and carded a double-bogey six at the next hole, the seventh, Woods had the outright lead.

Fleetwood and McIlroy were playing a few groups ahead of Johnson, and it was a race to see who would wind up on top for much of the late morning until Johnson made his birdie putt on the final hole and McIlroy dropped a shot on the 15th by pulling his approach toward the gallery.

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McIlroy said Woods is in a similar situation to his in terms of trying to win more majors.

"I'm not sure another day on the range is going to do me any good", he added.

Molinari closed with a 69, significant for two reasons.

His charge was a 2-under 69 in the strongest wind of the week, the only player from the last four groups to break par.

"It was a lovely morning to play golf", he said after Saturday's round, which featured only 25 putts.

"I think I played it out at Augusta in my head". So I was happy with my score. He did the first bit and then holed a 14-footer at the last for his first birdie of the day to squeak into the third round.

Molinari would be the first Italian to win a major championship. Westwood beat everyone else by nine shots in the HSBC Champions and lost by one to Molinari. And he wouldn't tell you, but he's human, and experiencing that kind of pressure, leading The Open on a Sunday, he's no different than anybody else having not experienced it for so long.

Daly wound up winning the four-hole playoff.

Now, Italy has the champion golfer of the year.

"It depends", he laughed, noting that the Formula One race at Hockenheim, Germany, would be bigger news if the Ferrari racing team finished on top. "Obviously, to achieve something like this is on another level. I hadn't had a lot of momentum from the crowd all week, and today it started to change". I know he made a couple of putts here and there for par, but to get it to where it was basically kick-in from some of the spots he put himself, that was impressive.

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