Molinari wins an exhilarating British Open

Italian Francesco Molinari produced a brilliant, error-free round to win the 147th British Open at Carnoustie on Sunday, carding a 2-under-par 69 to finish 8-under-par, two shots clear of the field.

On a dramatic final day on which the lead changed hands many times, a birdie at the final hole gave Molinari an 8-under-par total of 276, making him the first Italian ever to win a major.

“What a week,” Molinari said. “Obviously it’s incredible to stand here. I’ve got a massive team behind me, each one of them has been a massive part of the journey to get to this point.”

After accepting the Claret Jug, he said it would take a while for the enormity of his achievement to hit home.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” he told Sky Sports. “I think it’ll take a long time for it to sink in. It’s been a great week. To go bogey-free at the weekend around a track like this, it’s incredible.

“I was calm, as much as you can be in the final round of the Open. For the first time, I felt like I was ready for it. …”

“Playing with Tiger (Woods) made it even more special. I couldn’t have written it any better.”

The 35-year-old finished two shots ahead of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.

Former world No. 1 Woods was a shot further back on 5-under but Jordan Spieth, who shared the overnight lead, fell back to 4-under after a 76.

After three days of good conditions, the wind picked up on Sunday and it made life tough for all the players.

Spieth, the winner in 2017, Kisner and Schauffele went into the final round at 9-under-par, with a two-shot lead, while Woods lurked four back.

But things immediately went wrong for the leaders, while Woods made a move and Molinari plotted his way around the Carnoustie links.

Woods, chasing his first major win for a decade, hit the front at the turn as he picked up two shots on the front nine.

But a bogey and double-bogey dropped him back and he could never get better than 5-under, while his playing partner Molinari played beautifully throughout.

The Italian parred his first 13 holes, making a series of good par putts, before a birdie at the 14th gave him a share of the lead.

And then, after Woods fell off, Molinari hit a brilliant approach to the 18th, matched only by the putt, which dropped for a birdie.

Behind him, Schauffele teed off on 17 just one shot back but made a mess of his second shot and his bogey cost him any chance.

Rose, who had made the cut thanks to a birdie on the 18th hole on Friday, was the leader in the clubhouse for a while.

“I’m in the clubhouse, I set the target,” Rose said. “I knew that Eddie Pepperell had finished 5-under, and I knew if I couldn’t get past him, I had no chance. So that was the goal to make sure I got in the clubhouse ahead of him.”

Pepperell finished 5-under, thanks to a 67.

McIlroy eagled the 14th from 40 feet as he finished 6-under-par, but it was Molinari who stayed solid, stayed calm and got the job done.

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