Italy scored their first major golf triumph when form golfer Francesco Molinari produced a flawless final round of 69 (two under) to claim the 147th Open as the champion golfer of the year. Molinari got to the lead late in his round on a day which saw Tiger Woods hit the lead in a major on a Sunday – something unthinkable even a few months ago after yet another back surgery. A delayed finish in Kentucky saw Troy Merritt win the Barbasol Championship on the PGA Tour
Francesco Molinari, 35, made it three wins from his last five tournaments as he edged home by two-strokes at Carnoustie to win the Open with a score of eight under. The history-making win for Italian golf, which at one stage looked like it could finish via a multiple-player playoff, should perhaps not have been surprising given Molinari’s ranking and age average followed recent Open trends.
14-time major winner Tiger Woods lead alone as he played the 10th on Sunday in an Open finish which saw the ratings in the USA soar 37 % on last year’s climax. This provided similar TV numbers to Woods’ Open triumphs in 2000 and 2006. Woods went cross country on 11 and 12 dropping three shots in two holes as the solid Molinari wasn’t bothered by the hubbub going on around him.
Four players finished back at six under, former Open winner Rory McIlroy, England’s Justin Rose plus American duo Xander Schaufelle and Kevin Kisner. Back in sixth was Woods, England’s Eddie Pepperell (who shot the nest round of the day – four under 67) and Kevin Chappell of the USA.
Interestingly for the final pairing of defending champion Jordan Spieth and Schaufelle they feel 16 minutes behind the schedule and were officially put on the clock by the R&A officials at one stage. For Spieth one wouldn’t have expected that to faze him but he bogeyed 15 and 17.
Finally on the winner, typifying the Turin native’s consistency was highlighted by the fact he didn’t make a bogey all Sunday, the only player to do so, and he now rises to a career-high six in the world rankings.
Player Performance Notes
Several big names have elected to stay on in Europe with the European Open at Green Eagle Golf Course in Hamburg Germany this weekend. England’s Jordan Smith won courtesy of a playoff over Alexander Levy of France last year.
Under 20: Patrick Reed. The Masters champion ranks top for par five scoring on the European Tour and with five par fives at the Glen Eagle’s North Course. Reed was T19 here last year but did drop off the pace after an opening 68.
20 to 50: Nacho Elvira. Following his T12 finish here last year the Spaniard was also T9 a few starts back in Germany in the BMW International Open and seems to do his best work on the European mainland.
20 to 50: Aaron Rai. The Englishman was T5 in Germany four starts ago in the same event as Elvira and since then was T9 in the Scottish Open. Wolverhampton-born Rai won the third of the three second-tier titles he claimed in 2017 around this time last year in France.
50 to 100: Zander Lombard. The South African flamed out after a strong first round in the Open to shot 82 on Sunday and drop into a tie for 67th but was T6 a few weeks ago in Ireland. Lombard was T5 here last year. But his 14 (!) missed cuts in 19 starts this year suggest boom or bust.
Greens in regulation
Despite the staging of the Open the PGA Tour rolled on with Troy Merritt winning by a stroke in Kentucky to claim the Barbasol Championship. It was a second PGA Tour title for the 32-year old but one of those missing the cut was the story of the tournament.
Two-time LPGA major winner Brittany Lincicome missed the cut at the Keene Trace Golf Club venue but improved vastly across the weather-interrupted three days it took for the first two rounds. After an opening round 78 Lincicome fired a one-under 71 which included an eagle hole-out on the 17th to seal a positive foray into the men’s tour. Let’s hope it’s not another ten years until the next such instance of a female player in a PGA Tour event.
The LPGA heads to Scotland for the Ladies Scottish Open at Gullane this week. It’s the same venue as the men’s event won by Brandon Stone recently and this tournament was won by Mi Hyang Lee in 2017.
This week the PGA heads to Canada for the national open at Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, Ontario won last year by the two-time defending champion Jhonattan Vegas
Following recent success for young Australian players another, Blake Windred, will look to make history after earning the chance to play at the famous Peeble Beach and Spyglass Hill venues following his qualificatin for the US Amateur.
It was a nervous time for the Charlestown 20-year-old who progressed after winning a three-way playoff in Pennsylvania earlier in the week. Windred will head to the west coast after another tournament in Chicago this week.
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