Open champion Francesco Molinari pays tribute to ‘sporting’ Tiger Woods

British Open: Nike Athlete Francesco Molinari Wins Italy’s First Major Golf Title

British Open: Nike Athlete Francesco Molinari Wins Italy’s First Major Golf Title

Butch Harmon reflects on Tiger Woods' near return to the major winners' circle, Jordan Spieth's final-round collapse and an impressive challenge by Xander Schauffele at The 147th Open.

Tiger Woods is on the move in the British Open, edging to within a stroke of the lead on the front nine.

With Rose and McIlroy in the clubhouse on six-under, Schauffele fought back from a 40-stroke outward nine to get to seven-under but Molinari was unflappable.

The 14-time major victor, who is putting together a miraculous comeback following four back surgeries and was playing in the Open for the first time since 2015, said: 'It felt wonderful to be back in the mix over the closing stretch.

"It is absolutely awesome", Molinari said.

"I've always wanted to battle it out in a major with Tiger", Spieth said. It has been a great week. "I know that it's going to sting for a little bit here, but given where I was to where I'm at now, blessed".

Francesco Molinari escapes a classic Carnoustie bunker.

The world number 15 has two wins and two runner-up finishes in his last five starts, including an eyecatching eight-shot victory at the Quicken Loans National in Maryland earlier this month.

Steady opening rounds of 70 and 72 took him into the weekend, before a stunning 65 on Saturday propelled him into contention. Woods was fortunate to avoid trouble at the 18th, where he hit his worst shot of the day and narrowly missed going into the burn off the tee.

Rory McIlroy was bogeying two of his first five holes.

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He came out of nowhere a year ago and won the Tour Championship.

Molinari broke a sequence of five majors won by Americans and for a while Woods looked like making it six.

Ranked 650th at the start of the year, Woods has answered that positively with his lowest 72-hole total at a major since the 2012 Open.

Woods' surge was accompanied by fervent support on the Scottish links, with a buzz of excitement following him around the course.

Birdies at the fourth and sixth took Woods to the turn in 34 and, with the leaders crumbling, gave the 42-year-old a one-shot lead over Molinari and Spieth, who double-bogeyed the sixth after hitting his second shot into a gorse bush.

But a double bogey at the 11th derailed his bid for a first major since the 2008 US Open and, although a birdie on the 14th briefly reignited his hopes, he had to settle for a share of sixth place after signing for a level-par 71. He completed a bogey-free round with a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole and then waited to claim the tournament's Claret Jug trophy as other contenders faltered at the end.

The 14-time major champion is 6 under for his third round.

Woods parred the 17th but still stood two shots off Molinari as they went to the final hole. He didn't make a bogey on the normally tough Carnoustie links.

Molinari is as adept as anyone at keeping mistakes to a minimum.

But just when one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time seemed on the cards, Woods failed to pull off a risky flop shot to get out of trouble on the 11th and ran up a deflating double bogey.

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