By Keith Ayers, director of communications, United States Sports Academy
Francesco Molinari became the first Italian ever to win a major championship on the strength of a final round of steady golf Sunday at The Open, besting a field of the game’s greats who remained within shooting distance until the very end.
Molinari handled Scotland’s windy Carnoustie course to fire an 8-under 276 for the tournament, with four golfers finishing tied for second just two strokes back at 6 under. Molinari, playing with Tiger Woods, was a runner up at the PGA Championship last year and now has broken through as a major champion.
The Open provided plenty of high drama before the Italian finally was able to hoist the Claret Jug. Here are a few highlights:
- Molinari was rewarded for his impeccable play on the final round, a bogey-free workmanlike effort in the wind that nudged him head of a pack of golf’s best, who remained in contention until the final nine holes.
- The tightly contested tournament saw four golfers finishing only two strokes back, tied for second. They were Americans Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, England’s Justin Rose, and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.
- All eyes were on Tiger Woods who shared the lead at one time and finished tied for sixth on the tournament at minus 5, sharing that spot with Americans and Kevin Chappell. Woods played strong and was in contention several times before struggling in the final round.
- Jordan Spieth of the United States was not able to repeat as the tournament’s victor, as last-round struggles put him at minus 4 for the tournament and in a three-way tie for ninth with fellow Americans Matt Kucher and Tony Finau.
- At one point, six golfers were tied for first place, including Woods, Rory McIlroy and Spieth.
- In addition to winning his first major, Molinari also gave his home country of Italy its first major championship.
Keith Ayers is director of communications at the United States Sports Academy