Molinari wins wild Open at Carnoustie
There was chaos, and there was carnage. But in the end, a star-studded leaderboard gave way to the breakthrough of a decorated veteran. Here's how things ended up at the 147th Open, where a steady round from Francesco Molinari turned into a two-shot victory at Carnoustie.
Leaderboard: Francesco Molinari (-8), Xander Schauffele (-6), Rory McIlroy (-6), Justin Rose (-6), Kevin Kisner (-6), Tiger Woods (-5)
What it means: For much of the afternoon, it seemed like the Molinari-Woods pairing would produce an improbable champion - just not Molinari. Woods was in control of his game at the halfway point, taking a one-shot lead at the turn and apparently within reach of a 15th major. But chaos shortly ensued after he doubled the 11th, and amidst a bogey barrage from other contenders Molinari's even-keel round of 16 pars and two birdies helped him rise to the top. He broke free of a tie with Schauffele thanks to a birdie on the 72nd hole, then watched as his score held up. It's his third win in his last five worldwide starts, and at age 35 the Italian now has his first major championship after only one top-10 finish in 10 previous Open appearances.
Round of the day: On a day when the winds were up and conditions as tough as they've been all week, Molinari started his round with 13 straight pars before finally making birdie on the par-5 14th that was playing more like a par 4 during the final round. He didn't add another circle until stuffing his final approach to 8 feet, but it was his lack of mistakes that proved to be his biggest strength on a day when the three players who shared the 54-hole lead combined to shoot 11 over.
Best of the rest: Eddie Pepperell admitted that he was "a little hungover" after a disappointing third-round performance, but he shook off the cobwebs in stunning fashion while shooting a 4-under 67 to rocket up the leaderboard. Pepperell made five birdies against just a single bogey to go from eight shots off the lead into a tie for sixth, his best-ever finish in a major.
Biggest disappointment: The back-to-back bid for Jordan Spieth fell apart in shocking fashion. Seen as the favorite among the trio sharing the 54-hole lead, Spieth came undone on the par-5 sixth hole after hitting into a gorse bush en route to a double bogey. After appearing in command for much of the first three days, Spieth didn't make a single birdie during the final round while dropping into a tie for ninth after a final-round 76.
Shot of the day: Molinari was still tied with Schauffele at 7 under when he stood over his wedge shot from the light rough right of the 18th fairway, but he steeled his nerves and flighted a shot that rolled to within 10 feet. The subsequent putt broke the tie and ultimately gave Molinari a two-shot margin of victory.
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