Molinari clinches crown

Molinari clinches crown

SWEET SUCCESS: Francesco Molinari celebrates with the Claret Jug after winning the 147th Open Championship. Reuters

Francesco Molinari became Italy’s first major champion after firing a closing two-under-par 69 to win the British Open at Carnoustie on Sunday.

The 35-year-old from Turin underlined his status as the hottest player in world golf by finishing with an eight-under total of 276.

Molinari, playing alongside former world number one Tiger Woods in the final round, produced a joyful first-pump and hugged his caddie after holing a five-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole.

It was the Italian’s third victory in five starts. He also ended as runner-up in the other two tournaments.

England’s Justin Rose (69), Rory McIlroy (70) of Northern Ireland and American duo Kevin Kisner (74) and Xander Schauffele (74) finished in joint second place, two shots behind the winner.

Woods appeared ready to end his 10-year victory drought in majors midway through the round. The American topped the leaderboard until his hopes nosedived following a double-bogey at the 11th and another dropped stroke at the next hole.

The 14-times major winner had to settle for a closing 71 and a 279 aggregate.

“The way Francesco played today was beautiful,” said Woods after ending in a tie for sixth spot.

Early on, that old familiar Tiger charge -- missing for several years due to personal problems and back issues -- seemed to be on the cards as the packed gallery appeared to energise him.

He was pumping his fist and even raised a two-fingered V for victory to the gallery at the fourth as he sank a longish birdie putt to move to three off the lead.

He secured another birdie on the par five seventh, holing an uphill putt -- this time there was no fist pump just a determined look in his eyes as he strode off the green.

This took him to within one shot of the lead. Woods found the sand on the par three eighth but got it to puttable range and parred it and again on the ninth he found sand but repeated the escape act with a par and found himself alone in the lead.

Again on the 10th he found sand with his tee shot, grimacing at the realisation but once more he produced a stunning shot from the bunker to get the ball to the edge of the green before parring again.

However, his run of luck came to an abrupt end at the next -- as did his lead -- finding the rough then hitting a spectator before rolling behind a bush and resulting in a double bogey with him exiting the green grim-faced.

Further trouble and another dropped shot was to follow at the next and it was with his head bowed deep in thought he strode down the par-three 13th where he managed to stem the haemorrhage with a par.

Shubhankar slips

India’s Shubhankar Sharma carded a two-over 73 in the final round and finish tied-51st.

After being two-under in first five holes, Shubhankar had a lapse in concentration as he ended with a four-day total of four-over 288.

“It was a tough finish for me but I started off well. I was hitting it good and then I lost my concentration,” said the 22-year-old.

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