Coming into Sunday, the destination of the Claret Jug this year was totally up in the air. Any number of men had a chance to win, ranging from last year’s winner Jordan Spieth to steady Kevin Kisner to Tiger Woods (and those are just the American names). Others, too, had a great chance to take home the trophy after Saturday yielded lots of good scores, and it set us up for a tremendous final day at Carnoustie that simply did not disappoint. So many great stories, and in the end the one that prevailed on what proved to be a very tough yet nice day on the course was Francesco Molinari.
The course had proven quite difficult, forcing many into losing shots and causing the leaderboard to get very tight. A slew of players were at -6 for a very long time. And all of that on a day where the sun shone for the majority of the time and the wind blew at a constant but slight rate. It was not a classic rainy day with gale force winds. But it was the pressure that got to the golfers. However, there was one that was able to rise above on the day. And that was the hottest golfer in the field in Molinari.
Coming into the week, Molinari had finished second twice and won three times in his last seven tournaments. To say that this was a shock would be a huge overstatement. This was not a shock due to how well he is playing. He played so well that he went the final 37 holes without a single bogey. He birdied the 18th hole, pumping his first afterward, knowing he had a great chance at winning with only a few men still left out on the course. The Italian, who played alongside the red clad Woods, became the very first Italian in history to hoist the Claret Jug.
His play wasn’t perfect, like so much of the Open. The course at Carnoustie isn’t perfect. It has its flaws. But in that, there is beauty. Molinari had his difficulties, failing to hit a lot of fairways on Sunday. Yet, his recovery game was extremely strong, as evidenced by the lack of bogeys on the way in. His pitching and putting was a step above the other players on course, and that is the reason it is he, instead of the fan favorite Woods, or the defending champion Spieth, that will carry the title of Champion Golfer of the Year until they reconvene at Royal Portrush.