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Molinari played his final 37 holes without a bogey or worse.

McIlroy finished in a four-way tie for second at six under alongside England's Justin Rose and Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele of the United States, while American 14-time major victor Tiger Woods held the outright lead on the final day for a spell before finishing at five under par.

With defending champion Jordan Spieth, Woods, English duo Rose and Tommy Fleetwood and McIlroy in the Sunday mix, the Molinari sub-plot was nearly overlooked as the leading groups went out. Unfortunately, he fell apart a bit on the back nine.

"It is absolutely incredible", Molinari said. "If someone was expecting a charge, probably they weren't expecting it from me". It has been a great week. His 66 was his first weekend round in the 60s in the Open since 2007.

Molinari's success in the Angus sunshine was no surprise.

Par again. Tiger had another shot for birdie from about 25 feet out but missed badly. Schauffele chopped up the next hole for double bogey. If we're being generous with his health/longevity and say he can contend up until he's 50 (remember, Jack won his last major at 46 and he's still the oldest champion of the last 40 years), Tiger has 29 starts to win a major. For a while, I thought Tiger was going to win.

McIlroy remained without a major victory since winning his fourth at the PGA Championship in 2014.

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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. But it's particularly notable that this tied for the best final round overnight for this tournament since 2000, and that the event it tied with was in 2006. When I came here, I felt I was ready for the challenge. Molinari becomes the first Italian-born golfer to ever win a major championship.

"Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah", said Woods, who finished the tournament finished tied for sixth, three shots behind playing partner Molinari.

England's Rose and Northern Ireland's McIlroy were rated as the leading home hopes going into the 147th Championship and still had outside chances when they stepped onto the first tee on Sunday.

That's one to tell and show the grandkids about one day. Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy both went up one spot after T-2 finishes to No. 2 and No. 7, respectively - a new career high for Rose.

Molinari settled for the best cheer of them all. He was runner-up at the John Deere Classic before taking the tournament's charter flight to Scotland. Woods finished tied for sixth.

Asked if Spieth felt he and his rivals would now be dealing with Woods's name hovering on leaderboards for a number of years to come, the three-times major victor replied: "I think so, yeah". The fifth hole heralded disaster though. It came down to Molinari and Xander Schauffele, who was playing two groups behind him with defending champion Jordan Spieth. "I played well", said the 28-year-old.

"Every time I looked up at the leaderboard, there's four, five, six guys in the lead, and five, six guys one back". So I'll look back at this week and be very encouraged about what I've done, and the golf that I played, and I feel like that will stand me in good stead for what's coming up.

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