Why The 147th Open will always be remembered
Golf’s finest head back to Carnoustie for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, with memories of The 147th Open still fresh in the mind.
It is the first time the game’s top players will tackle the Angus course since Francesco Molinari emerged victorious in July on one of the most dramatic days in Open history.
Here we look back at why The 147th Open will always be remembered.
Ice cool Francesco delivers in style
With Tiger Woods lighting up Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth fighting to retain the Claret Jug and Rory McIlroy cheered on by a vocal home crowd, the final day of The 147th Open had it all.
But in and among the white heat of battle, Francesco Molinari kept the coolest of them all as he produced a tactically perfect round to claim his, and Italy’s, first Major Championship.
Molinari’s approach was simple. Attack Carnoustie too hard and you come unstuck, so he played steady, consistent golf and it worked perfectly.
The Italian did not drop a shot in his final 37 holes, even as he played alongside Woods on the final day – watching first-hand as the American shot into contention.
A birdie at the par-five 14th was the key moment and while his rivals faltered, he stayed calm down the stretch – even birdieing the last for good measure.
It brought the curtain down on a thrilling Championship and dramatic final day, when there were as many as seven players in contention to win.
Tiger makes Carnoustie roar
With a first professional win in five years under his belt and a wild card pick for the Ryder Cup, Tiger Woods is without doubt back among the game’s elite.
But at the height of summer there was still some doubt over his potential to compete for the game’s Major honours – until day three at Carnoustie.
Woods was six off the lead at the halfway point of the tournament, as he struggled to read putts and find greens in regulation.
But late on Saturday afternoon, he had Carnoustie dancing to his tune. He made three straight birdies at the turn and briefly led after another at the 14th. He signed for a five-under 66 and sat just four off the lead.
For many, that was enough. Tiger was back. But on Sunday, decked in red, he really proved he could compete for a 15th Major title.
While others faltered in the flapping wind, Woods excelled. He made two birdies on the front nine and took sole possession of the lead. Carnoustie started to resemble Glastonbury.
Eventually, he settled for tied sixth – three shots off Molinari. But when he tapped in on the last and acknowledged the crowd, he was greeted like a Champion.
Saved at the last
Justin Rose and The Open have not enjoyed the best of relationships since his remarkable Silver Medal at Royal Birkdale in 1998.
And when he stood on the 18th green late on the second day, that looked likely to continue. Rose, the highest-ranked home golfer in the field, needed a birdie just to make the weekend after a disappointing first two days.
His putting had been so flat that there was seemingly no hope he would knock in the required birdie but Rose is, if anything, a fighter.
The Englishman sized up the putt on the notoriously difficult 18th green and nervelessly nailed it. He made the weekend by a shot, equalled the Carnoustie Open record on Saturday with a breath-taking 64 and almost went on to win on Sunday.
Farewell to a great
The Open brings the best players from around the world together, mixing new faces and established faces on the toughest links courses in the world.
But it also provides a chance to see some of the greats strut their stuff again. Sandy Lyle is certainly one of those. He ranked among golf’s best throughout the 1980s, when he won two major titles – including The Open in 1985 at Royal St George’s.
The Scottish ace had featured in every Open since 1977, recording three top-ten finishes. But all good things come to an end and Carnoustie marked Lyle’s last appearance under the winner’s exemption.
He was honoured with the opening tee shot on Thursday morning, which safely found the fairway, and he was cheered throughout his two rounds by a massive crowd.
Locked and loaded
While Lyle waved goodbye and disappeared into the sunset, a young and exciting prospect burst onto the scene.
One of the highlights of any Open is the tussle for the Silver Medal, given to the leading amateur, but at Carnoustie Sam Locke ran away with it.
The 19-year-old, who is mentored by 1999 Champion Golfer Paul Lawrie, played with a maturity beyond his years as he carded rounds of 72 and 73 in tough conditions to make the cut and that was enough.
Fellow amateurs Nicolai Hojgaard, Lin Yuxin and Jovan Rebula all failed to make the cut meaning Locke was already confirmed as the Silver Medal winner.
He completed rounds of 70 and 78, before receiving his medal and turned professional days after.
Practice Day tickets are still available for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush in 2019 and remember, when you buy your tickets for The Open with Mastercard, you will receive a £5 discount per transaction.