Carnoustie (Scotland), July 23 (IANS) Francesco Molinari became the first Italian to win a major golf title as he clinched a two-stroke victory at the 147th British Open here on Sunday.
The 35-year-old tallied eight-under 276 (70-72-65-69) over the four days to finish two strokes ahead of England’s Justin Rose (72-73-64-69), Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (69-69-70-70) and Americans Kevin Kisner (66-70-68-74) and Xander Schauffele (71-66-67-74).
Englishman Eddie Pepperell, American legend Tiger Woods and Kevin Chappell finished tied sixth with an identical total of five-under 279 at the Carnoustie Golf Links.
Defending champion Spieth failed to make a birdie, with a penalty drop from a gorse bush on the sixth leading to a double bogey in a final round of 76.
Starting the final round three shots behind co-leaders Kisner, Schauffele and defending champion Jordan Spieth, Molinari plotted his way round with 13 consecutive pars to move into a share of the lead as the other leading contenders struggled to deal windy conditions, according to the European Tour’s website.
Initially it had looked as though Molinari’s playing partner Woods was on course for a 15th Major Championship a decade after landing his 14th.
The American birdied the fourth and sixth to hold the outright lead on seven under, but double bogeyed the 11th. He then got a bogey on the 12th to run out of contention.
By contrast, Molinari gained his first shot of the day at the par-five 14th and, just as crucially, holed clutch par putts on the 15th and 16th.
With Schauffele recovering from four dropped shots in three holes on the front nine with birdies at the tenth and 14th to join him on seven under, Molinari got a birdie.
Schauffele then found trouble on the 17th, getting a bogey before he made a par effort on the 18th to leave it for Molinari to win.
“I think it will take a long time for this to sink in. To go bogey-free at the weekend around a track like this, it’s very good,” the world number 15 was quoted as saying by European Tour’s website.
“I was as calm as you can be in the final round in the Open. I felt like I was ready for it.”
Molinari pocketed 1,625,387 euros ($1,907,183.59) for the win.