The Open Championship Recap
Writer: Lucas Garza
The 147th Open Championship returned to Carnoustie for the first time since 2007. Carnoustie is known for being the most difficult course on the the Open rota, as well as being the northernmost course to host a major championship. In 1999 and 2007, Jean Van De Velde and Sergio Garcia had the leads going into the 18th hole, but both ended up losing the tournament.
During the players’ practice rounds at the beginning of the week, they took note of how firm and fast the fairways were due to a dry summer so far. Many said that they had not played on that fast of fairways before, and 400 yard drives were the norm for some holes. The weather for the week was forecasted to be calm, so the course was not expected to play as difficult as it had in previous years.
Kevin Kisner took advantage of the calm conditions on thursday morning, and posted a 66 with only 22 putts. Kisner, who led the 2017 PGA Championship after the first three rounds was trying to use what he learned during that week to good use. South Africans Erik Van Rooyen, Zander Lombard, and Brandon Stone all posted rounds in the 60’s to trail Kisner by just one or two.
Tiger Woods teed off on friday morning, and was +2 thru 3 holes, after shooting an even par 71 on Thursday. Woods bounced back by birding the next two, and cruised in from there for another even par round, safely inside the projected cut line. After a solid first round, Zach Johnson continued to dig under par and eventually reached -6, where he would finish at friday. Kisner continued his good play, and stood on the 18th tee on Friday at -8, but he would double the 18th, and finish tied for the lead at -6. Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, ranked one and two in the OWGR and FedEx Cup Points, failed to make the cut
Most of the 80 players to make the +3 cut took advantage of the good scoring conditions on Saturday. Justin Rose, who made the cut on the number, shot 64 to climb way up the leaderboard. Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods stole the show on Saturday, along with other Americans. Tiger shot a 66 which captivated audiences across the world, and his name was even on top of the leaderboard for a while. Spieth posted a bogey free 65 of his own, to share the 54 hole lead with Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele, last years TOUR Rookie of the Year.
Tiger would start the final day four shots back, and in the third to final group, playing alongside Francesco Molinari. Tiger got to -2 thru 6 holes, and got up and down on the final three holes of the front 9 to make the turn with the lead. The group who had started the day at -9 had all fallen to -6 and Spieth and Schauffele had not made any birdies yet. Tiger put his tee shot on 10 in a fairway bunker, and decided to take a big swing from it to try and reach the green over a big lip, which he did. He parred 10 and still had the lead. Tiger found the rough off the tee on 11, and pulled his approach shot well left, where he hit a spectator and went into more rough. After trying to be too cute around the green, tiger left with a double, and bogeyed the next hole to drop to -4.
At this time, Molinari was playing a steady round of golf, bogey free and -1 on the day. Kisner and Schauffele were hanging around, and the Rory McIlroy, who had stayed just a bit back of the leaders all week, dropped a 55 ft eagle putt on 14 to get to -6, where he would finish. Justin Rose made a comeback from just making the cut to post -6 for the tournament as well. The golfers left on the course knew they would need to get to -6 or better to have a chance to win the championship.
Tiger made a birdie putt at 14, but so did Molinari, which gave him the outright lead, with Schauffele being the most serious contender behind him. Tiger and Molinari had solid pars on the 15-17, and both hit drives on 18 leaving them with simple wedge shots in. Both players hit them inside of 6 ft. Tiger missed his, while Molinari rolled his in to finish the tournament at -8.
Schauffele reached -7 heading into 17, but bogeyed the par 4 to drop to -6, needing an eagle at 18 to tie Molinari. Schauffele lip out a birdie putt on 18, and finished T2 with Rose, McIlroy, and Kisner.
This is Francesco Molinari’s first major championship victory, and the first major champion from Italy. The 35 year old has proven to be in good form all year, winning tournament on both the PGA and European tours. Many of his peers have regarded him as the hottest player in the world all season, so it wasn’t a surprise to see him win The Open at Carnoustie.
Tiger Woods finished T6, his best finish in a major since he finished in the same position at The Open in 2013, when Phil Mickelson won. Tiger has now moved into the top 50 of the OWRG, earning him a spot in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. Tiger has won the tournament a whopping eight times, but this years version will be the last one played a Firestone CC in Akron, Ohio, as the tournament will be moving to TPC Southwind in Memphis next season. Tiger’s last win came at Firestone 5 years ago, so all eyes are on him to end that drought soon.