Italy's Molinari captures Open Championship for first major title

The Open champion Francesco Molinari

The American could get the battle with Tiger Woods he has always visioned with the 14-time major victor lurking ominously among the chasing pack after a thrilling day of low scoring at a defenceless Carnoustie.

It caps a stunning stretch for the 15th-ranked Molinari, who has won on the PGA and European Tours in the previous two months.

Woods, playing at his first British Open since 2015, rolled back the clocks on Saturday with a sizzling 66, his best round at an Open since winning at a similarly parched Hoylake in 2006.

Many analysts howled at Woods' ultra-conservative strategy across the early rounds here at big, brawny and brutish Carnoustie. So, it would be odd if he skipped now - as blowing off Firestone would also mean not having a start between the Open and PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods during British Open golf third round action in Carnoustie July 21, 2018.

It was Molinari who didn't make a mistake, shooting a final-round 69 and playing the final 37 holes of the tournament without a bogey.

On a day where prevailing winds made life hard for the leaders, Molinari's tactical masterclass yielded a 69 that was enough to reach eight under for the tournament and triumph by two strokes.

Kevin Chappell made two double bogeys, the last one on No. 17 that derailed his hopes. He was nine shots behind Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, who shared the lead at Carnoustie on 6-under 136.

The three time Open Champion made birdies on holes four and six to go seven under, as the above trio began to come back to him. "My record around here was bad, which didn't make me too optimistic about the week", he said.

Woods stirred this remote Scottish town on a balmy afternoon, his name going to the top of the competitors in the 147th Open when he two-putted the 14th green for a birdie.

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For Woods this was not to be the weekend where he finally claimed his 15th major title, a decade after his last at the US Open.

Tiger Woods earned the outright lead with a two-under-par front nine but a nightmare double bogey on 11 was followed by another drop-shot on the 12th and his race was soon run.

Molinari clinched it with a driver that skirted the edge of a pot bunker, leaving him a lob wedge from 112 yards to 5 feet.

Playing from tall, wispy rough, he experienced what many do when finding that type of grass on a links: it grabbed the shaft, his clubface closed, and his approach sailed well left of the green.

The document said Woods then failed four field sobriety tests, saying he was on four prescription drugs.

"To me, it's just so special to have them aware because I've won a lot of golf tournaments in my career, but they don't remember any of them".

Woods was at 7 under, in control of his game and hitting shots that only he can.

Schauffele and Kisner both shot 74 as their challenges for a first major faded.

"For a while", McIlroy conceded, "I thought Tiger was going to win".

The sun was peeking out of the clouds and Woods was walking up the first fairway when one spectator, a beer in his hand, shouted: "Go on Tiger, we got your back". "I've got a chance at this, which is great".

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