Francesco Molinari tamed both the Tiger and the Beast that tormented him for years as he emerged from another incredible final day at Carnoustie as the champion golfer at the 147th Open.
The 35-year-old Italian had stopped coming to the annual Alfred Dunhill Links Championship because of the many times he’d been “beaten up” playing Carnoustie in that event, but he arrived at the course this week as arguably the world’s in-form player, with two wins and two second places in the last two months.
Playing with Tiger Woods in the final round, Molinari stayed in the shadows as the 14-times major champion, making his best bid for a 15th for years, grabbed the lead from Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele around the turn.
However Woods continued his record of never having won a major trailing going into the final day as, like his two younger compatriots, he suffered a crucial double bogey at the 11th hole.
Molinari, who started his round with 13 pars in a row, finally birdied the 14th “Spectacles” hole to take the lead and although Schauffele recovered to contest the famous Claret Jug within the Italian coming down the stretch, a further birdie at the 18th clinched the title.
He didn’t drop a shot over the 36 holes of weekend play.
“To go the weekend bogey-free, it’s unthinkable, to be honest,” he said. “I’m so very proud of today.
“When I came here, I felt I was ready for the challenge. Obviously conscious that it could have gone either way, but I knew I was going to do my best today.”