Molinari survives to win Claret Jug
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — Francesco Molinari didn’t get the loudest cheers for the best golf at British Open.
He was overlooked for so much of Sunday playing alongside Tiger Woods, who caused pure pandemonium at Carnoustie by taking the lead in the final round of a major for the first time in nine years.
Molinari settled for the best cheer of them all.
The last one.
Amid so much chaos — seven players atop the leaderboard, six of them still tied on the back nine — Molinari played a steady hand by going the entire weekend without a bogey and finishing with a 5-foot birdie putt that secured his place in history as Italy’s first major champion.
“Clearly, in my group, the attention wasn’t really on me, let’s put it that way,” Molinari said, the gleaming claret jug in front of him. “If someone was expecting a charge, they probably weren’t expecting it from me. But it’s been the same the whole of my career.”
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.
Woods lost the lead with one bad swing that would have been even farther left of the 11th green had it not crashed into the fans, leading to double bogey. He followed that with a bogey and never caught up. He had to settle for a 71.
Jordan Spieth, tied for the lead in his bid to go back-to-back in the British Open, failed to make a single birdie and shot 76, his highest score Sunday in a major.
Kevin Chappell made two double bogeys, the last one on No. 17 that derailed his hopes. Kevin Kisner made his double bogey early. Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose each made a run with eagles on the par-5 14th hole, McIlroy with a 50-foot putt , Rose with a second shot that bounced off the base of the pin. They ran out of holes.
Xander Schauffele, the last hope to keep alive the American streak of five straight majors, was one shot behind until he sent a long iron to the right of the 17th and failed to make a 15-foot putt for par.
Molinari clinched it with a driver that skirted the edge of a pot bunker, leaving him a lob wedge from 112 yards to 5 feet. He poured it in, raised his right fist and shook it lightly before slamming it for emphasis.
Then, he waited in the trailer to see if anyone could catch him. At one point, he went over to the practice green, but not to prepare for a playoff.