By Anand DatlaOn a wild and windy Sunday at Carnoustie, one man made a decision to walk out of the wilderness, willing his way through a pure pursuit of perfection built on perspiration and perseverance.
Molinari closed with a 69, significant for two reasons. Woods finished tied for sixth.
Despite being in hot form, the Italian was sailing under the radar.
McIlroy remained without a major victory since winning his fourth at the PGA Championship in 2014. With the attention firmly on a field of fluttering stars, Francesco went about his business with an unwavering commitment to his own game. 5 and 6, then double bogey on No. 7 after leaving one shot in the wispy grass and sending his next over the green. He was spotless through the weekend even as the leader board was changing hands like a frenzied roulette. "When he's in contention, there's more interest, more viewership".
Molinari reminded us of the prejudice that defines the chemistry between star and fan.
Woods finished tied for sixth place on the tournament, which was won by Italian Francesco Molinari with a score of -8.
"Carnoustie always seems to produce very special Opens, one way and another", Italian Molinari, 35, said after snatching his first major.
At the age of 35, he becomes the first Italian player ever to win a major, after keeping his cool in remarkable fashion when nearly all around him seemed to be losing theirs on a warm but windy afternoon on the Scottish coast.
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The 42-year-old still has not triumphed on the Tour since 2013, but Player does not believe he is far away as he revels in the profile Woods brings to the sport. "I'm sure she'll probably call me and talk to me about it because you've got to put things in perspective", said the American. "In fact it was a big reason for me not playing the Dunhill Links so much, I got beaten up around here a few times".
"So yeah, I'm very proud of what I did today". Those who had wondered if they would ever see it again. Jordan Spieth cost himself by failing to make a single birdie.
"It wasn't the birdie, it was actually when he was walking from the 13th green to the 14th tee", McIlroy said.
It was this unerring, nerveless effort that helped Molinari emerge as the Champion Golfer of the Year. There was to be no encore for the young man. This was a win for one of the hardest workers and good guys of the Tour.
He was gracious in his moment of desolate defeat, paying a rich tribute to Francesco.
"When you put yourself in position enough times, it goes your way sometimes, it doesn't go your way sometimes", Spieth said, who goes to the PGA Championship in three weeks for a chance at the career Grand Slam. I loved seeing him jump to 20th. "I'm certainly happy for him".
"It's not a nice feeling when I don't see the Claret Jug". It's the best golfers in history and to be on there it's incredible.
"Anyone can look at it however they want to, but I'm going to look at it as a positive moving forward, and try to learn how to handle the situations a little better next time". Our inherent bias and desire for a champion moulded in the cast of our own perceptions is a odd human fixation. "Hopefully, they will get as inspired as I was at the time, watching him vie for the Claret Jug". The silence that befell Carnoustie as the field dissolved into the distance was uniquely fascinating.