Francesco Molinari hopes his Open triumph can inspire the next generation after becoming the first Italian major champion.
Molinari, who had two wins and two second places in his previous five starts this season, carded a nerveless closing 69 at a windswept Carnoustie to finish eight under par, two shots clear of Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.
Playing alongside a rejuvenated Tiger Woods, Molinari followed 13 straight pars with a birdie on the 14th and finished a brilliant round in fitting style with another from just three feet on the 18th.
Asked how big his win would be back in Italy, Molinari joked: “It depends. If Ferrari won today they will probably get the headlines.
“It was large news this last run of form. To achieve something like this is on another level. Hopefully there were a lot of young kids watching on TV today, like I was watching Costantino (Rocca) in 1995 coming so close to winning at St Andrews.”
Molinari won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May and was second in the Italian Open the following week, before following a tie for 25th in the US Open with an eight-shot victory in the Quicken Loans National and second place in the Travelers Championship.
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 22, 2018
The 35-year-old only arrived in Carnoustie on Monday lunchtime and walked a few holes of a course where he missed the cut on his Open debut in 2007.
“It’s one of the reasons why I didn’t play the Dunhill Links (which uses Carnoustie as one of three courses) in the last few years because I got beaten up around here a few times already in the past,” Molinari added.
“I didn’t particularly enjoy that feeling. It’s a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There’s no way around it. You can’t really hide.
“I knew I was coming in with some good golf but 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. Playing with Tiger was another challenge because of the crowds and everything.
“But I felt really good this morning. When I came here, I felt I was ready for the challenge. Obviously conscious that it could have gone either way, but I knew I was going to do my best today.
“I’m lost for words really. Incredible to do something like this, and very proud of what I’ve done.”
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