The Open Talking Points: Fleetwood cracks, Tiger roars, Molinari wins
Nick Murphy | 23 July 2018
What does it all mean for the Ryder Cup?
Tiger Woods, Tommy Fleetwood and Jordan Spieth all threatened to triumph at Carnoustie. But in the end it was quiet Italian Francesco Molinari who lifted the Claret Jug at the 147th Open Championship.
It was an intriguing, exciting and often bewildering four days’ play in East Scotland, as leaders came and went on the parched Angus fairways. The Coral News Team have rounded up all of the key talking points from the third major of the year below.
Par for the course for Molinari
Italian sport hasn’t enjoyed much success in recent years. The National Team failed to qualify for the World Cup, Ferrari hasn’t won a Constructors Championship since 2008 and the Rugby Union side recently picked up their third wooden spoon in a row in the Six Nations.
So step forward Francesco Molinari to put a smile on Italian faces. The unassuming 35-year-old quietly went about his business at Carnoustie to land a maiden major championship for both himself and his country.
While others faltered on the final day, the Turin native stayed strong. His sixteen pars on Sunday evoking memories of Sir Nick Faldo’s eighteen in a row to land the Open back in 1987. Molinari’s six-under-par 65 on the penultimate day laid the ground work for his win, but it was the Italian’s ability to keep his head while others lost theirs that ultimately told at Carnoustie.
Tiger is roaring again
He came, he saw and for a brief while it looked as though he might actually conquer. But in the end it wasn’t to be for Tiger Woods at Carnoustie – a double bogey on the eleventh ending his chances of a fourth Open Championship.
The 42-year-old got the heart racing with some fabulous play across the four days, in particular his magnificent bunker shot at the tenth on Sunday. It counted for little. On this evidence, though, Tiger’s wait for a first major since 2007 could soon be nearing an end.
It was a fantastic Friday at Carnoustie for Tommy Fleetwood. The Southport favourite had the Coral traders running scared after carding a six-under-par 65 to sit one off the lead going into the weekend’s play.
A succession of errors during the third round put him two shots behind the leaders, a position compounded by a two-over-par 73 on the Sunday to leave him T12 for the tournament. In many ways this was a missed opportunity for Fleetwood. Yet the 27-year-old can point to year-on-year progression at each of the major championships as cast iron evidence of his continued development.
Fleetwood may have cracked at Carnoustie, but he’ll be stronger for this disappointment in the long run.
What does it mean for the Ryder Cup?
The European quartet of Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Eddie Pepperell and Molinari each finished inside the top-ten at Carnoustie. But it was the Americans who dominated in Scotland.
Seven of the top eleven players hailed from the United States, including the ever-improving Woods. In spite of the Italian’s success, six of the last eight majors have been won by golfers Stateside, with their young crop of players showing more apparent depth than their European counterparts.
The US are the current holders of the Ryder Cup after triumphing in Minnesota two years ago, eight years on from their prior victory at Valhalla. At this current moment in time, they look well placed to mount a first successful defence since 1993.
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