The Tiger Woods fairytale may not quite have come true, but it was a dream finish for Francesco Molinari as he became the first Italian man to win a major with victory in the British Open.
The 35-year-old held off an early surge from playing partner Woods and overhauled the back-pedaling defending champion Jordan Spieth to clinch the historic Claret Jug at Carnoustie Sunday.
Molinari, the world No.15, kept his nerve in the circus surrounding the reborn Woods to win by two shots on a sun-baked, breezy afternoon on Scotland’s east coast, saying afterwards he was in “disbelief.”
He fired a round of 69 to finish eight under ahead of four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, Americans Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele and England’s former US Open champion Justin Rose.
Molinari was on the practice putting green — “I couldn’t watch, I don’t know how my wife does it,” he said — when Schauffele, the only man who could beat him, came up short in the final group.
“It’s amazing to sit here with the Claret Jug,” Molinari told a later news conference.
“I look at all the names on the jug and they’re the best golfers in history — and to be on there, it’s incredible. For someone like me coming from Italy, which is not really a major golf country, it’s been an incredible journey.”