The Open flashback: Francesco Molinari's 2018 win at Carnoustie
By Mike Patterson
Last Updated: 15/07/19 8:48am
Nine of the last 10 major winners have been American but Francesco Molinari struck a blow for Europe with his first major victory in The Open at Carnoustie last year.
The Italian headed to Scotland in excellent form following wins in the BMW PGA Championship and Quicken Loans National and a joint-second in the John Deere Classic the previous week.
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He made a solid start in the 147th Open Championship on the historic Angus links with a one-under 70 leaving him five behind American Kevin Kisner.
Molinari was two shots worse in the second round, although he was still within six of the lead at the halfway stage as Kisner was joined at the top of the leaderboard on six under by Zach Johnson.
'Moving Day' was just that for Molinari as a bogey-free 65 lifted him to six under and three off the lead, but he was still flying a little under the radar.
Many eyes were on Jordan Spieth as he matched the Italian's 65 to take himself into a share of the lead on nine under with Kisner and the consistent Xander Schauffele.
Tiger Woods also roared into contention with a 66 to be just four off the pace - where he sat alongside Rory McIlroy - and set himself up for a final-day pairing with Molinari, while Justin Rose carded a 64 after just making the cut.
Carnoustie then produced a sensational Sunday as Molinari defied the blustery conditions to post the only bogey-free round of the day, carding 16 pars and two priceless birdies, including the clincher at the final hole which earned him a two-shot win and his maiden major title, the first Italian to achieve the feat, at the age of 35.
Woods and McIlroy were among six players who had at least a share of the lead during an enthralling afternoon, but their challenges came up just short, along with English pair Rose and the charging Eddie Pepperell.
Spieth's bid to become the first back-to-back champion in a decade was ultimately scuppered by a double-bogey seven at the sixth and a cold putter throughout, and he would finish four off the pace after a 76, while Kisner and Schauffele shared second with McIlroy and Rose.
"I'm just in disbelief, to be honest," said Molinari after lifting the Claret Jug.
"I knew I was coming in with some good golf, but my record around here was terrible so that didn't make me too optimistic about the week. But I just tried to not think about it and focus on hitting good shots day by day.
"To go the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest, so I'm very proud of today."
Watch The 148th Open throughout the week live on Sky Sports' dedicated channel! Live coverage begins with "Live at The Open" on Monday from 4pm on Sky Sports The Open.