How Tiger Woods Keeps Knocking on the Door

Francesco Molinari

Francesco Molinari

It was Francesco Molinari who did the spoiling, shooting a 2-under 69 to win at Carnoustie, while McIroy ended up tied for second and Woods faltered and tied for sixth.

He finished two clear of four-time major victor Rory McIlroy, Americans Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele and England's fomer US Open champion Justin Rose, who had to birdie the last on Friday to make the weekend cut.

When Schauffele's par putt stayed out on the 17th the Italian puffed out his cheeks knowing only an eagle for the American at the last could deny him.

"I got beaten up around here a few times already in the past". He hit a couple off shots here and there, but his short game was on point. "I knew I was coming in with some good golf but my record around here was bad".

The 42-year-old's hopes of a remarkable comeback after a turbulent spell in his life - during which he has encountered off-course problems with the break-up of his marriage and a run-in with the law - were alive and well on the back nine. Kevin Kisner made his double bogey early.

This was a major tournament which had been prefaced with a common line in questioning from American journalists to U.S. players, from whose number the previous five major winners had emerged, being "what sort of message would it send ahead of the Ryder Cup if it was to become six this week?"

Starwatch: red marvel that is a lunar eclipse
A super blue blood moon rises behind the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple on the Acropolis of Athens, Greece, on January 31, 2018. The first stage of the eclipse known as the penumbral stage will happen around 6.14pm BST when the sun is still up in the sky.

Woods, without a victory in a "Big Four" event for 10 years, surged into first place with a faultless front nine before his challenge unraveled with three dropped shots in two holes from the 11th. On the tenth hole, an aggressive shot out of a fairway pot bunker landed near the edge of the green.

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.

Molinari is the first Italian with his name on the claret jug. "Hopefully there were a lot of young kids watching on TV today, like I was watching Costantino in 1995 coming so close to winning [against John Daly] at St Andrews".

The pair's 72-hole total of 282 was good enough for top-20 finishes, but not good enough to contend for the Claret Jug. He then bogeyed the 12th, and ultimately finished tied for sixth at 5 under. As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I got Spieth onside at [11.0] and I backed Molinari at [100.0]. The improvement in his game is a huge boost for Europe as they aim to reclaim the Ryder Cup from the United States at Le Golf National near Paris in late September. But it's also a quick ascent for Molinari, who has now won three of his last six worldwide starts and was ranked No. 33 in the world after missing the cut at The Players Championship two months ago. But let's not forget about Molinari's attitude pre-major champion.

Retaining his Open title looked a distinct possibility as Spieth held a share of the lead heading into the final round, but a 76 on Sunday left him four shots adrift of eventual victor Francesco Molinari.

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