Francesco Molinari continued his stellar 2018 season by winning his first major at The Open after a titanic final round battle at Carnoustie.
A new Carnoustie record of 172,000 spectators were enthralled by events during The 147th Open, culminating in Italy’s first winner of the Claret Jug and indeed any major.
Molinari was paired with Tiger Woods on the final day, starting three shots behind a trio of Americans atop the leaderboard.
And the Turin native became the 2018 Champion Golfer of the Year after a final round 69 for an 8-under-par total of 276.
His bogey-free play over the weekend over the Angus links will go down as one of the most consistent performances in the history of The Open.
While the recent history of Carnoustie is normally players losing the Championship, Molinari’s performance was much closer aligned to Gary Player (1968) and Ben Hogan (1953).
His closing birdie ensured that he’d clinch the Claret Jug by two shots from Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.
In his opening remarks on becoming Champion Golfer of the Year, the 35-year-old said: "What a week! It is incredible to stand here and I should thank all my family for the support they give me when I travel all around the world. This golf course was incredible, the R&A did an amazing job of setting it up.
"I have been beaten up around here in the past and I don't like that feeling. To play the weekend bogey-free around here is impressive."
This win eclipsed Molinari previous career high finish of second in a major at the PGA Championship in 2017.
The Italian made The Open the ninth tournament win of his career, a CV which includes the BMW PGA Championship and the WGC HSBC Champions event.
Justin Rose shot the best round of the week – a 64 on Saturday to get himself into contention – while Zander Lombard of South Africa became the first man to eagle the difficult finishing hole at Carnoustie on the same day.
A product of 1999 Champion Golfer Paul Lawrie’s academy, Sam Locke, followed in the footsteps of Rory McIlroy to win the Silver Medal as the leading amateur.