The 147th Open Cham­pi­onship

Moli­nari hails 'hero' Rocca af­ter Bri­tish Open tri­umph

Golf Asia - - CONTENTS - IMAGES © ROLEX / CHRIS TUR­VEY & THOMAS LOVELOCK

Francesco Moli­nari in­sisted Costantino Rocca would re­main his "hero and idol" af­ter suc­ceed­ing where his com­pa­triot failed nar­rowly by be­com­ing the first Ital­ian to win the Bri­tish Open. De­spite the pres­sure of play­ing along­side Tiger Woods, who was him­self in ti­tle con­tention, Moli­nari pro­duced a bril­liant fi­nal round of 69 to win the Open at the Carnoustie course in Scot­land.

Re­mark­ably, it was the 35 year old Moli­nari's sec­ond con­sec­u­tive round with­out the blem­ish of a bo­gey and saw him fin­ish the Open on

eight un­der par. Back in 1995 at St An­drews, an­other Scot­tish course and the venue for this year's Se­nior Bri­tish Open, Rocca holed a stun­ning 60 foot birdie on the 18th to force a play­off, only for John Daly of the United States to win that year's Open.

"It feels weird," Moli­nari, now the first Ital­ian to win any of golf's four ma­jor cham­pi­onships, told Sky Sports. "Costantino still is and will al­ways be my hero and my idol. His text on Sun­day night was prob­a­bly one of the most spe­cial ones. He came so close to win­ning this that it's for him as well. He told me con­grat­u­la­tions and how pleased he was for me. He knows how hard I've been work­ing to get here so I think he felt the same proud­ness that I felt," added the in-form Moli­nari, who in May won the Euro­pean PGA Cham­pi­onship ti­tle at Eng­land's Went­worth course and re­cently

claimed his first ti­tle on the US tour at the Quicken Loans Na­tional.

Moli­nari, a more out­wardly re­served fig­ure than Rocca, said he was de­ter­mined to keep the Open cham­pion's Claret Jug tro­phy, ar­guably the most fa­mous piece of sil­ver­ware in golf, in his sights. "It wasn't too wild, there was a lot of joy from ev­ery­one but a lot of tired­ness as well af­ter a long week," he said of Sun­day's cel­e­bra­tions. "But it was great to have a few close friends and my wife hav­ing a few drinks and telling a few sto­ries about the week," added Moli­nari, whose brother, Edoardo, is also a pro­fes­sional golfer.

"It's not a nice feel­ing when I don't see the Claret Jug. I want to know where it is, so I try to hold on to it as long as pos­si­ble." Mean­while Moli­nari was par­tic­u­larly proud to have won the Open at Carnoustie, widely re­garded as the most dif­fi­cult of all the cour­ses that stage golf's old­est ma­jor and the only one played out­side the United States.

"Look­ing at the list of names on the tro­phy, the peo­ple who won here in Carnoustie, it's just an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment, es­pe­cially when I think where I started in Italy, not re­ally tonnes of golfers there so to come all the way to this re­ally means a lot."

Italy's Francesco Moli­nari won the Bri­tish Open by 2 shots af­ter shoot­ing a four round to­tal of 276, 8 un­der par.

Jor­dan Speith tee­ing off on day one

Hideki Mat­suyama

Tiger Woods on day 3

Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm hav­ing a chat

Phil Mick­el­son on day one

Li Hao­tong

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