Open champion Francesco Molinari pays tribute to ‘sporting’ Tiger Woods

Molinari, playing alongside former world number one Tiger Woods in the final round, produced a joyful first-pump and hugged his caddie after holing a five-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole.

"That was big for me just to not finish with two bogeys on the last three holes, playing as well as I did, " he said.

But here's where we take a deep breath.

Jordan Spieth of the United States during the final round of the British Open Golf Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland, Sunday July 22, 2018. "I've shown that I've been there close enough with a chance to win this year".

Just last fall, he'd admitted that he didn't know what the future held. He did all this somehow despite playing amid a Woodsian crowd of which Molinari said, "Clearly in my group the attention wasn't really on me, let's put it that way", and on a course on which he had "got beaten up" previously. More likely to express his vulnerabilities.

Though Woods fell short of winning his first major title in 10 years and 15th of his career, analysts and fans were nonetheless appreciative of his performance and the day's worth of golf.

With another tough save from off the green at the 16th, he didn't miss another shot.

"Sometimes I have a few drinks, " said Pepperell, who finished as Woods was in the lead.

Donning his traditional blood-red shirt Sunday, Woods needed only six holes to erase his five-shot deficit.

With the wind gusting to 32 kilometres per hour, the strongest it had been all week, Molinari was the only player from the last four groups to break par. Jordan Spieth cost himself by failing to make a single birdie.

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Rory McIlroy was bogeying two of his first five holes. "I focused on my process and on hitting good shots and on playing smart golf".

I thought this was the type of golf course Tiger could win around.

His statements included, "Oh, it was a blast", and, "Next thing, lo and behold, I'm tied for the lead, and then I'm leading it", and the telltale, "A little ticked off at myself for sure". "I've done it so many different ways".

Woods, bidding for his first major in over a decade, had the sporting world daring to dream when he led with nine holes to play. That's what happened Saturday, when he shared the lead on the back nine and promptly made bogey.

Spieth went from a bogey-free round on Saturday that gave him a share of the lead to a birdie-free round that led to a 76, his highest Sunday score in a major.

He was pumping his fist and even raised a two-fingered V for victory to the gallery at the fourth as he sank a longish birdie putt to move to three off the lead. He'd never again pull closer than two shots.

"This was his first taste of major championship drama for quite a while", McIlroy said. "If they won, they'll probably get the headlines".

Over the daunting closing stretch, Woods watched helplessly as Molinari, as reliable as the tide coming in off the North Sea, plodded his way to victory.

Woods is in a race against time - and that's a race no one ever seems to win.

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