The first month as Champion Golfer
It’s been a whirlwind of a month for Francesco Molinari since the Italian vanquished the field at Carnoustie to lift the Claret Jug at The 147th Open.
The Champion Golfer of the Year opened his Major Championship account in style with a two-under final round of 69, playing the final 37 holes on the toughest links in golf without a bogey.
Six players had a share of the lead on the back nine, including defending Champion Golfer Jordan Spieth, while three-time Champion Tiger Woods also remained in close proximity of the lead.
But Molinari outlasted them all, rolling in a birdie putt on the final hole to win by two shots, with Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele his nearest challengers.
And the 35-year-old has been revelling in his new status as Champion Golfer since the dramatic finale last month, keeping himself very busy despite his stunning triumph.
How he celebrated his success
Being the understated and quiet-natured individual that he is, Molinari’s was typically modest about how he celebrated winning the most treasured prize in golf.
When asked whether he drunk from the trophy on the night of his victory, he said: “I'm not a big drinker, so to fill the Claret Jug with water which is a bit of a blasphemy it feels like.
“I do drink red wine, but it's not my first passion, let's say. And last week there was a lot of recovery needed, so it didn't seem like a great time to get hammered, but there’s been celebrations.
“It doesn't have to be, again, drinking to be a celebration. We sat down with the team on Sunday night, the part of the team that was still there, with my wife, just chatting about the week and how someone felt it was going to happen and someone didn't.
“So, we were just sort of chatting. Some crying. Not from me, but from other parts of the team. Just spending time together and chatting about it. It’s been really good.”
Dealing with being Champion Golfer
Molinari revealed he only had a few hours of sleep after winning The Open, admitting that he didn’t want to go to bed as he needed to let the scale of his achievement sink in.
The next day he explained how he felt waking up next to the Claret Jug. “Waking up with the Claret Jug on my bedside table was amazing, incredible,” he said. He has since shared the trophy with his coach, who put in a special request to sleep with the Claret Jug one night, while his children have also enjoyed having the Claret Jug around.
Meanwhile, Molinari quickly realised that his win at The 147th Open had thrown the spotlight on him like never before, something he experienced on his family’s holiday to the Bahamas.
“People at the airport and on the plane over to Bahamas were congratulating me while the crew asked for a picture with me and the Claret Jug,” he said.
“You can definitely see it's changed and it's taken me in a different dimension. So, it's going to be probably a bit of a challenge for someone like me, but I'll try to deal with it as good as possible.”
Back to business
Following a week off after his maiden major success, Molinari was back in action at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational looking to continue his hot streak.
The world number six was unable to add to his record of three victories and two runner-up finishes in his last six worldwide starts, though, finishing in a tie for 39th. But it was not long before he was back challenging at the top of the leaderboard, with Molinari coming close to making it back-to-back Major titles at the PGA Championship.
He shot four rounds in the 60s to finish on ten-under at Bellerive Country Club, resulting in a tie for sixth place alongside Thomas Pieters, Justin Thomas and Gary Woodland. The Wanamaker Trophy was ultimately won by two-time US Open champion Brooks Koepka, but Molinari’s performance moved closer to securing his place on the European Ryder Cup team.
He was also voted European Golfer of the Month for July on the back of his exploits at Carnoustie, holding off strong competition from Richard McEvoy, who won his maiden tour title. It was the second time Molinari has won the award this year, after he was also recognised in May following his victory at the BMW PGA Championship.