Article

Molinari´s safety-first masterclass yields deserved Open triumph

22 July 2018 22:31

You are taught many things by your parents as a child but two lessons that always stand out are 'don't talk to strangers' and 'safety first'.

That second piece of generally sound advice is not always particularly relevant in the world of golf but, on Sunday, it was a tactic employed to near perfection by Francesco Molinari, who, amid the glorious chaos of an ever-changing scoreboard scenario, kept his cool and stuck to his guns to win a maiden major title at The Open.

No doubt golf fans around the world would have been rooting for the usual big-hitters. Jordan Spieth, co-leader after Saturday's play, and Rory McIlroy were in contention at different stages of the day.

So too was Tiger Woods and the narrative around what would have been a landscape-changing 15th major for the American needs little explanation.

But none of golf's more household names truly got to grips with the changing weather on Sunday. The glorious sunshine that lit up Carnoustie all week remained, the fairways still truly baked, but the winds picked up and the skills needed to succeed undoubtedly changed.

And through all the excitement, all the you-can't-script-it drama, Molinari just kept on keeping on, making his pars, waiting for his chances to triumph and ensuring when they did, he had the cold-blooded mindset of a winner to do so.

Make no mistake about it, this win was no fluke. Molinari had vowed to take such an approach after surging up the leaderboard with a six-under-par 65 on Saturday.

"I'm looking at the forecast [for Sunday]. It's going to be a different story," he said. "I think it's going to be really important to adapt quickly to the different conditions.

"It's not a day to be aggressive. It's more a day to make as many pars as possible."

More impressive still was the way Molinari kept to such at tactic playing alongside Woods, who attracted the usual masses of spectators, all of whom would have been desperate for another major hurrah.

Lesser players would have wilted at the sight of a charging Tiger reach the top of the leaderboard on their front nine.

It was an aspect of the day that did not go unnoticed by Molinari.

"Playing with Tiger was another challenge because of the crowds and everything. But I felt really good this morning," he said.

"When I came here, I felt I was ready for the challenge. Obviously conscious that it could have gone either way, but I knew I was going to do my best.

"Obviously, he had it going on the front nine, and then, unfortunately, just hit a couple of loose shots on the back nine. It's hard not to pay for missed shots around Carnoustie."

That Molinari was able to cope with such distractions should be no surprise. This is a man who was arguably the form player heading into Carnoustie, having won on both sides of the Atlantic.

Indeed, with this Open triumph he now has three victories to his name in his past six tournaments, fine form indeed in a Ryder Cup year, one Europe can now approach with cautious optimism after ending America's run of five straight major champions.

Whether Molinari's golden run is the start of a prolonged period of success or just a major-winning purple patch is ultimately immaterial.

Some may argue that a more 'glamorous' winner would have befit such a dazzling day of drama. But the bottom line is that Francesco Molinari is the worthiest of Open victors and, on this occasion, safety first won the day.

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