Day, Scott fall short as Italian Molinari claims British Open title
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Day, Scott fall short as Italian Molinari claims British Open title

Carnoustie: Adam Scott and Jason Day will wonder what might have been after Australia's British Open title drought extended to 25 years with another unsuccessful tilt at Carnoustie.

Their disappointment on Sunday contrasted sharply with Francesco Molinari, who gave Italy its first ever major win.

Molinari held off a cast of golfing giants including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and defending champion Jordan Spieth to become the first Italian winner of the British Open in 158 years.

Playing alongside the resurgent Woods in the final round, Molinari carded a nerveless two-under-par 69 to win the Claret Jug by two shots from McIlroy (70), English hope Justin Rose (69) and Americans Xander Schauffele (74) and Kevin Kisner (74).

With a brilliant birdie at the last, 35-year-old Molinari’s eight-under 72-hole total of 276 eclipsed Padraig Harrington’s Carnoustie tournament record score from 2007 by a stroke and kept some of the sport’s biggest names at bay.

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‘‘It’s just disbelief. To look at the names on that Claret Jug, obviously, what can you say? It’s the best golfers in history, and to be on there, it’s incredible,’’ Molinari said.

‘‘From someone like me coming from Italy, not really a major golfing country, it’s been an incredible journey.’’

The 35-year-old from Turin underlined his status as the hottest player in world golf by finishing with an eight-under total of 276.

Francesco Molinari of Italy after putting a birdie on the 18th green to claim the 147th British Open title in Carnoustie on Sunday.

Francesco Molinari of Italy after putting a birdie on the 18th green to claim the 147th British Open title in Carnoustie on Sunday.

Photo: AP

It was the Italian's third victory in five starts.

Scott and Day both finished the tournament at two under par after a dramatic final round on the famous Scottish links.

Woods appeared ready to end his 10-year victory drought in majors midway through the round. The American topped the leaderboard until his hopes nosedived following a double-bogey at the 11th and another dropped stroke at the next hole.

Tiger Woods plays out of a bunker on the 10th hole during the final round at Carnoustie.

Tiger Woods plays out of a bunker on the 10th hole during the final round at Carnoustie.

Photo: AP

Scott, by comparison, started the last round just four shots off the pace but he floundered with a front-nine 40 before picking up three strokes coming home to join Day in a tie for 18th.

The former Masters champion rued a killer double-bogey on the par-4 third after his lob wedge ballooned in the strong breeze back into the burn and he was unable to get it up and down for bogey.

"I didn't play very well on the front. Probably most guys struggled on the front. It was very, very difficult," Scott said.

Adam Scott during the British Open at Carnoustie, Scotland.

Adam Scott during the British Open at Carnoustie, Scotland.

Photo: AP

"I'd just want one shot back. My second shot going into the third was such a bad shot. Making a double there. I could have easily made a four with one better swing and I would have been satisfied with even par today, considering the way I played.

Jason Day couldn't make a dent in this year's British Open.

Jason Day couldn't make a dent in this year's British Open.

Photo: AP

"I just didn't hit fairways and greens on the front nine. I actually scrambled really well and putted really well and got it back, but I wished I'd had another crack at that shot. It was a bad shot."

While Scott lamented his closing two-over 73, Day's three-under 68 – the second-lowest round of the day – came too little too late.

"It's clearly a little bit disappointing to not give myself a shot at even getting into contention," the former world No.1 said after he entered the final round 10 shots adrift of the leaders and with little hope of victory.

"But there's a lot of positives from today. It was good to be able to get into the red and beat this course, which was nice."

Australian Open champion Cameron Davis closed with an impressive one-under 70 to finish in the top 40 on his major championship debut.

"He's got all the tools to make it," two-time US Open champion Brooks Koepka said after playing the final round with the 23-year-old Sydneysider.

Lucas Herbert, in his first Open too, dropped three shots on the punishing last two holes for a 77 and four-over 72-hole total, leaving the 22-year-old with a creditable share of 51st spot.

Herbert beat home Marc Leishman, who faded with a 76 to finish at five over, one ahead of Brett Rumford (74), with Cameron Smith's final-round 77 leaving the reigning Australian PGA champion at 10 over and equal 78th.

AAP