Friday, 19 October, 2018

McIlroy eager to play with Open champion Molinari in Ryder Cup

Francesco Molinari climbed to a career-high world ranking of sixth on Monday Francesco Molinari climbed to a career-high world ranking of sixth on Monday
Sergio Cook | 27 July, 2018, 23:01

The fact that Molinari kept incredibly calm in a final round pairing with Woods added to the old world charm of this memorable Open Championship victory.

"From someone like me coming from Italy, not really a major golfing country, it's been an incredible journey", gushed the delighted Italian.

Even as Jordan Spieth at the sixth, Xander Schauffele at the seventh and Tiger at the eleventh were digging themselves into the soil, Molinari busied himself with making a steady stream of pars.

McIlroy entered the frame when he eagled the 14 to move to six under and into a share of the lead.

While he ultimately finished tied for sixth place - 3 strokes behind playing partner and eventual victor Francesco Molinari - oddsmakers certainly have taken notice. He poured it in, raised his right fist and shook it lightly before slamming it for emphasis.

"He does things that maybe he didn't do 10, 15 years ago, but it's still great to have him back".

"To go the weekend bogey-free is unthinkable". Playing with Tiger was another challenge because of the crowds and everything.

"Clearly, in my group, the attention wasn't really on me, let's put it that way", said Molinari.

"But I felt ready for the challenge". Woods and Spieth were among five contenders to make double bogeys. Molinari posted the second-best round of the day (65) to find himself paired with Woods for Sunday's fourth and final round. Brooksy [Brooks Koepka] played another solid round [70]. "He was working the ball around the greens, and that was cool to see".

He maintained his unwanted record of never having won a Major starting the final round from behind.

Molinari settled for the best cheer of them all.

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".

Woods stumbled with a double bogey on No. 11.

Apparently not. He wound up winning by three shots.

This wasn't on the golf course. "But there can only be one victor".

"I don't know how my wife watches me all the time". His 69 left him eight under par, two shots clear of his nearest challengers including Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy, three ahead of Woods and four shots ahead of last year's victor Jordan Spieth.

He still has to show it, however, and what Sunday at Carnoustie made clear is that it will take more than his mere presence on the leaderboard.

The biggest blunder belonged to Woods, his red shirt blazing against the yellow grass of dry Scottish summer. Kevin Kisner was the first-round leader, shooting 66 to hold the lead at 5-under.

The beginning of the end of Tiger Woods run at the title.

And then it all went wrong. In a span of just 21 days, he won Woods' personal tournament and took the Open Championship from Woods, quite the achievement for a veteran pro who also won the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship in May.

"It didn't feel any different, " Woods told reporters after the round.

"I was close to the lead and I knew I had a chance".

Woods embraced his two children, telling them he hoped they were proud of him for trying hard. With another tough save from off the green at the 16th, he didn't miss another shot. "Hopefully, they will get as inspired as I was at the time, watching him vie for the Claret Jug". He was 12 when he watched Costantino Rocca lose in a playoff to John Daly at the British Open at St. Andrews.

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