Inside the ropes - the best of the rest after carnage at Carnoustie
A dramatic, scintillating, enthralling Open at Carnoustie eventually ended with Francesco Molinari as a well-deserved Champion Golfer of the Year.
Molinari became the first Italian to win a major when a final-round 69 saw him end on eight-under, two strokes ahead of Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.
But behind that top five, plenty of golfers were fighting for position on the leaderboard and we’ve gone inside the ropes to wrap up the best of the rest of what the players had to say after their rounds.
Eddie Pepperell was meant to be commentating at Carnoustie this week, until a brilliant performance at the Scottish Open secured his place. Playing with Phil Mickelson, he was the form player on Sunday with a 67 securing him a five-under total.
“It wasn't shy. I hit the ball better on the range, which gave me some confidence because I didn't feel I was swinging it well this week.
“Nick said to me coming up at the last, I'm a caddie's dream because I don't play practice rounds very often.
“I didn't play one last week and I didn't play one this week. I didn't want to be here on Monday because I wasn't feeling very well. I've played Carnoustie loads of times but I've never seen it like this.
“I took it very, very casually this week.”
Carnoustie course record holder Tommy Fleetwood looked set for a big weekend after a brilliant 65 on Friday put him right in contention but rounds of 71 and 73 saw him drift into a tie for 12th at three under. And frustration was the overriding emotion for the genial Englishman.
“It's just disappointing and it got away from me. Even though the middle of the round got away from me, I still had a chance – I just couldn't do it.
“It's always sad and disappointing. I don't want to be a baby about it but I'm obviously disappointed. It just wasn't my time.
“I felt like I did so many things right but just the last couple of days, I made two double bogeys that you can't have.
“Putts just didn't really drop for the weekend like they did the first two days – overall, that was it.”
Former Champion Golfer Phil Mickelson didn’t have a week to remember, finishing one-under-par after rounds of 73, 69, 70 and 71. However, nothing matches the challenge of links golf according to the five-time major winner.
“I always enjoy coming over. I always enjoy this two-week stretch. I didn't play as well as I would like these couple of weeks, but it's a time I cherish every year.
“As a test, this week was exceptional. You saw so many different ways to play holes. You saw the nuances and subtleties and just really the greatness of this golf course come through. It's the first time I've seen that.”
Bernhard Langer may be nearly 60 but he showed plenty of young guns the way ahead after finishing on one under after rounds of 73, 71, 68 and 71. Next week he will look to win the Senior Open title for the fourth time.
“It's been good preparation but St Andrews is meant to be a bit greener and not quite as burned out.
“I’m creaking right now, it’s time to put the feet up instead of putting the weight on them. Every day there's something, you just feel it and I'm not 20 or 30 anymore.”
Adam Scott has struggled for form in recent months but the 2013 Masters champion sees some signs of life after rounds of 71, 70, 68 and 73 helped him to a tie of 17th at two-under.
“There's good stuff in my game. I didn't hit it as well as I wanted this week but there was still plenty of good in that.
“My short game is really good, I thought. So I like that. If I can just get the rhythm of the golf swing going a little better over the next couple weeks, I really feel like I can make a mark and try to put a dent in the end of the season.”
Danny Willett has had a horror two years since winning the 2016 Masters, largely due to injury, but impressive European Tour results in recent weeks culminated with a final scorecard of 69-71-70-73 from the week, good enough for one-under and tied 24th.
“It can come and go as it pleases but the game is definitely on a path that it is a lot better than where it was.
“It's nice to come off disappointed, in 25th position in a major, whereas a year ago that would have been a really nice finish. It just says the state of where we are is a lot better.
“I played quite well. My game's obviously getting better, so my time's coming up, I think.”
Brooks Koepka was seeking to become the first golfer to win the US Open and The Open in the same year since Tiger Woods in 2000. But it wasn’t a vintage week for the double major champion, who finished two over with rounds of 72, 69, 75 and 70.
“I’ve felt bad the whole week. I didn't play very good and didn't strike it good. I just never really felt comfortable. I putted average. It was just one those weeks you've just got to move on and get to the next week.
“I’m looking forward to Royal Portrush next year. I know my caddie is excited, it’s basically his hometown. It will be nice to get over and see some of his family and see some of his friends.”
2015 Champion Golfer Henrik Stenson admitted he wasn’t fit this week and probably wouldn’t have played had it not been The Open. His final round was his best of the week but 70, 75, 71 and 69 left him one over par.
“If it had been any other tournament - anything other than a major potentially - I don't think I would have teed it off this week.
“I’m hoping the arm will clear up in a week or so and hopefully I can find some form. I need to pace myself and not do too much. But at the same time, I'm not feeling like I'm firing golf-wise, so you still need to put some work in.”
Paul Casey is fearing the American challenge at the Ryder Cup later this year after finishing four over for The Open.
“They've got something going and they've got momentum on their side. They have the Presidents Cup, they have the Ryder Cup, world No. 1, three of the majors. They've got a lot of momentum, and then you throw that into the mix, and the fact they all get along, it means they're going to be a very, very good team.
“Europe have always had that ability to come together nicely, it's something we've had as a bit of a strength in the past. I also think we've got a very, very good team when you look at it as well.”
We produced shot-by-shot live reporting for @TheOpen website and official app. If you missed any of the action and want the inside track on this remarkable afternoon, see here: https://www.theopen.com/LiveReportingThis time next year, The Open will return to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years. Be part of the biggest party in golf in 2019. Get immediate access to Priority tickets for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush when you sign up today to join The One Club for free. Simply go to TheOpen.com/PortrushTickets.