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Final Standings: -8 Francesco Molinari; -6 Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Kevin Kisner, Xander Schauffele; -5 Eddie Pepperell, Tiger Woods, Kevin Chappell; -4 Tony Finau, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth.
Francesco Molinari has become the first-ever Italian golfer to win a major championship after claiming The 147th Open at Carnoustie this evening.
The Italian shot a two-under final round of 69 – his second consecutive bogey-free round – to finish on eight-under-par and win golf’s oldest professional tournament by two shots from Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele who shared second.
It is Molinari’s third win in the last two months following his victories at the BMW PGA Championship in May and Quicken Loans National last month.
“I’m in disbelief,” said the new ‘Champion Golfer of the Year’. ‘It’s amazing to be here with the Claret Jug. I knew I was coming in with some good golf but my record around here was terrible.
“That didn’t make me too optimistic about the week but I tried to not think about it and just focussed on hitting good shots day by day.
“To go through the weekend bogey-free, it’s unthinkable. I’m just very proud.”
Making his tenth Open start – with a previous best finish of tied ninth at Muirfield in 2013 – Molinari began an extraordinary final day three shots adrift of 54-hole leaders Xander Schauffele, Kevin Kisner and defending champion Jordan Spieth.
However, in increasingly blustery conditions, the 35-year-old held his nerve whilst those around him lost theirs.
He parred his first 13 holes before picking up his first shot of the day at 14 to edge into the lead entering the notoriously fiendish closing stretch.
Pars followed at 15, 16 and 17 but, with playing partner Tiger Woods still breathing down his neck – the former world No.1 and three-time Open champion had held the lead outright earlier in the round – and major winners Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy in the clubhouse on six-under, Molinari knew he could ill-afford a mistake walking to the 18th.
Instead, he produced the opposite, knocking a perfect drive and an equally exquisite approach to within a matter of feet from the hole.
After Woods missed his own birdie chance to remain at five-under, Molinari duly converted his to set the target at minus-eight.
He then faced an anxious wait to see if any of those still on the course could catch him.
One by one, they faltered and when Schauffele was unable to eagle the 18th, the day, the win and the Claret Jug belonged to Molinari.
“For someone like me coming from Italy, not really a major golfing country, it’s been an incredible journey,” he added.
“Hopefully, there were a lot of young kids watching today like I watched Costantino [Rocca] in 1995 coming so close and hopefully they will get as inspired by this as I was by watching that.”
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