Italy’s Francesco Molinari is the Champion Golfer of the Year, but there was more to take away from the 147th Open Championship ...
WE LEARNED HOW GOOD FRANCESCO MOLINARI REALLY IS
Francesco Molinari grabbed the Claret Jug and the title of ‘Champion Golfer of the Year’, which is a fitting description given his form during the past two months.
Since winning the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour in May he has been the game’s in-form player with his last six finishes reading 1st, 2nd, 25th, 1st, 2nd, 1st.
Despite his results, most of the pundits – even in the early stages of the final round – were too distracted by the likes of Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods to give the Italian much of chance of winning his maiden major title.
But the 35-year-old proved slow and steady can win the race as he rattled off 13 consecutive pars on the back of a brilliant short game. He made his first birdie at the relatively easy 14th and banked only his second birdie of the round on the 72nd hole with a long drive and pitch to five feet. When he rolled in the putt the Claret Jug was his.
The key to Molinari’s victory was his ability to minimise the impact of any mistakes over the weekend, going bogey-free for the final 36 holes.
“It’s amazing to stand here with the Claret Jug. I knew I was coming in with some good golf,” Molinari said. “My record around here was terrible. So that didn’t make me too optimistic about the week, but I just tried to not think about it and focus on hitting good shots day by day.
“To go the weekend bogey free, it’s unthinkable, to be honest.”
WE LEARNED TIGER WOODS IS CERTAINLY BACK
On the eve of this 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods told the media that the hard and fast Carnoustie layout gave him the best chance of adding to his haul of 14 major titles.
When he took the outright lead 60 holes into the tournament the golf world started to believe him.
He held the lead for four more holes before carding his only double bogey of the championship on the long par-4 11th. When he bogied the next hole his run at the title was done. Even a birdie at the par-5 14th left him with too much ground to make up over the tough closing holes.
“I did everything the way I thought I needed to do it to win the championship,” Tiger said.
He added: “It was a blast. I need to try and keep it in perspective because, the beginning of the year, if they’d have said you’re playing The Open Championship, I would have said I’d be very lucky to do that.
“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.”
WE LEARNED IT COULD BE BERNHARD LANGER’S LAST OPEN
Bernhard Langer made his Open Championship debut in 1976 as an 18-year-old, and was runner-up twice – to Bill Rogers in 1981 at Royal St George’s and to Seve Ballesteros at St Andrews in 1984.
The German gained entry into this year’s Championship by winning the Senior Open title at Royal Porthcawl last year. Sadly, unless he successfully defends his title at St Andrews later this week, he will have played his last Open.
“Just as I holed my last putt, I was thinking, yeah, this could be my last Open Championship,” said Langer, who finished at one under and in the top-25. “You just don’t know at my age.
“The only way for me to get here is through the Senior Open because I’m not going to go through the qualifying stuff that I tried a few times when I was younger. I’m not going to do that anymore. It could be my last one unless I win the Senior Open.
“If I win the Senior Open, I’ll definitely be back for The Open again, wherever that is.”
WE LEARNED LINKS GOLF IS A GREAT LEVELLER
No matter whether you’re a short or long hitter, young or old, every golfer has a chance of winning on a links golf course.
With a greater reliance on strategy and the mental game and less on brute strength and driving distance, we saw the likes of 60-year-old Bernhard Langer do well.
Conversely, big bombers Jon Rahm and World No.1 Dustin Johnson both attacked the links, adopting a strategy hitting their drivers wherever possible and not really worrying where they hit their next shot from. Both men missed the cut.
WE LEARNED THE SILVER MEDAL MIGHT BE CURSED
Since 1949, the Silver Medal has been awarded to the leading amateur, provided they complete all four rounds.
Young Scot Sam Locke was the only amateur to make the cut at Carnoustie and won the medal, finishing at nine over and tied 75th.
But what are Locke’s future chances of winning the Claret Jug? Well, of the 45 players who have won the silver medal in the past 70 championships, only two – Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy – have gone on to win The Open.