After 72 holes of golf at the Carnoustie Golf Links in Carnoustie, Scotland, Francesco Molinari became the first ever Italian to take home the Claret Jug. With a score of 8 under par, he beat out Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Kevin Kisner, and Xander Schauffele who all tied for second with scores of 6 under, and here’s how it all went down.
The Carnoustie Golf Links were the host of the 147th Open Championship. The course is a par 71 that plays just over 7000 yards with 13 par 4’s, 3 par 3’s, and 2 par 5’s. The fairway’s are incredibly narrow, and for the majority of the tournament they were also so baked that the ball ran out a ridiculous amount after hitting the ground, making them play even more narrow. This caused players to take irons off of the tee, and in most cases that still wouldn’t work, so the “fairways hit” statistic played a less significant role than in normal PGA Tour matches. Which makes sense because Molinari only hit 40% of the fairways.
The dry ground making the ball run out also created a more even field off the tee. Long drivers like McIlroy and Dustin Johnson were almost at a disadvantage because, while they had the possibility to drive a few of the par 4 greens, they also were more inclined to hit it too far which could put them in some really tough positions. The temptation of reaching the green in one, also caused some players to lose the direction of the ball. We saw Dustin Johnson, world number 1, struggle with this as he failed to make the cut by posting a +6 through 36 holes.
What separated Molinari from the rest of the field was his consistency in rounds 3 and 4. In those rounds, Molinari posted bogey-free scorecards, and his ability to play “boring golf” in the last round specifically is what essentially won him the championship. He consistently had good angles into the greens, and hit 67% in regulation, and never found himself in a spot that he couldn’t make par. He also managed to keep his composure while watching Tiger Woods make a surge for the top, and at one point taking the solo lead, which has proved to be a difficult task in and of itself.
After getting off to an awful start, a great third round, and a solid final round lead one of the hottest golfers to an Open Championship victory. However, that’s arguably the second biggest story coming for Carnoustie. What’s the biggest story then? Well, that belongs to none other than the Big Cat himself, who finished in the top 10 in a major for the first time in 10 years, and has everyone wondering if he could be on the verge of becoming the old fist pumping Tiger we all know and love.