How The Open was won – a statistical look at Molinari’s historic victory
Francesco Molinari deservedly earned the title 2018 Champion Golfer of the Year after a spectacular weekend of golf – and he’s got the stats to prove it.
Molinari shot a brilliant Saturday 65 and then, while playing alongside Tiger Woods and all the distractions that includes, he kept his head when all around him were losing theirs to card a 69 in treacherous conditions on Sunday and clinch The 147th Open by two strokes.
The 35-year-old made history by becoming the first Italian man to win a major and the statistics show just how he managed it.
Carnoustie is one of the toughest challenges in golf and with the wind swirling on Sunday, even the world’s best were up against it – as shown by just six men carding rounds in the 60s.
One of those was Molinari but even more impressive than his final score of 69 was the fact it came in the form of 16 pars and two birdies - drawing memories of Nick Faldo's par-athon to claim The Open at Muirfield in 1987.
That followed a six-birdie, no-bogey round of 65 on Saturday for Molinari meaning, remarkably, he didn’t drop a single shot across the weekend.
On my way to some deserved 🏖, with one extra piece of hand luggage 🤭— Francesco Molinari (@F_Molinari) July 24, 2018
I have received too many tweets to thank everyone individually. I am so proud of the messages of colleagues, friends and some real legends of the game and sport in general.
Thanks to every single one of you!
To play the final 36 holes at Carnoustie bogey-free was something no other player managed and it set the Italian up to make history.
He was also the only player from the final four groups on Sunday to finish his final round under-par.
Drives for show, putts for dough
The advice floating around Carnoustie this week was to stay out of the rough and bunkers, with the latter especially being the equivalent of a penalty stroke.
But surprisingly, Molinari’s driving was not flawlessly straight – he only hit 26 fairways across the four rounds, just 43 per cent of those available, ranking him 74th in the field.
Contrastingly, his putting was right on the money – confirming the old adage of ‘drives for show, putts for dough’.
He only required 111 putts across the week, ranking him fourth in the field, which averaged out to 1.54 per hole.
The only men more efficient on the greens were American trio Kevin Kisner, Julian Suri and Xander Schauffele.
Before his final round, Molinari stated that it wasn’t a day to be aggressive but one simply to make pars. He did that, with 16 pars, but also threw in two birdies.
That was actually his low-water mark for the week as he made 17 birdies in the four rounds with no-one in the field making more.
Brooks Koepka and Cameron Davis equalled his tally but the Italian, who notched five on Thursday, four on Friday and six on Saturday limited his dropped shots better than that pair.
That proved a potent combination and his nerveless putting on Sunday was arguably the most impressive trait of his round as he finished his week’s work by lifting the Claret Jug.