Francesco Molinari

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Utter Chaos In Scotland

Man’s Game, Francesco

July 23, 2018 - 9:57 am

Sunday at the 2018 Open Championship was complete and utter chaos. Jordan Spieth said Saturday night to “expect the unexpected.” And he has never been more right. With the wind whipping, Carnoustie went all Car-nasty, both in terms of how it played and in terms of how it jacked with guys’ heads.

It was so chaotic that Spieth’s disastrous sixth hole, which included a hard target search of the brambles, a cut finger, and a double-bogey was actually the most predictable thing of the day. That’s how it was with Spieth at the Open last year – a wild hole and then he turns it around. 

But that didn’t happen yesterday. Instead, it was pandemonium. Tiger made a run. Tiger took over the lead. There was a six-way tie for first. If you wanted one scorecard to sum it all up, check out Rory McIlroy and his two birdies, three bogies, and one eagle, and that was all in the first fourteen holes. 

It was so weird that Eddie Pepperell, a guy nobody had heard of before yesterday, shot a 67 with a hangover and put himself right in contention. Think about that. Tiger, Rory, Jordan, one single name guy after another is making a run and crumbling under the pressure of battling the course, but Eddie Pepperell, who’d been hitting the sauce the night before, was getting super saucy on the course. 

Meanwhile, a guy from northern Italy who lives in London, Francesco Molinari was quietly playing a near perfect round. Went out in 36 and then came back in, when it mattered most, when the Claret Jug was on the line, at 2-under. While everyone else was melting down, Molinari was just rolling it in. 

Oh, and he was doing it on a course that he admitted he’s avoided in the past because it’s been rough on him. 

Yeah, it wasn’t the storybook ending that most people were rooting for. And that has nothing to do with Molinari. It’s just that he isn’t Tiger Woods. It’s pretty hard to ignore the Tiger in the living room here. There’s no denying that Molinari is a worthy champion. Two wins and two runner-ups in his last five starts. 

You might not know who he is, but his peers do. Check Justin Thomas, who tweeted: What a round by @F_Molinari. Played with him Thursday-Friday, not surprised! Guy is the hottest player on the planet currently. Bogey free out there today is a championship round

That’s the key. While everyone else was lurching from one mistake to another, Molinari was just error-free. But don’t for a second think that’s easy. That all you have to do is go out there and not make a mistake and the jug is yours. Playing bogey-free golf at your local muni is difficult. Doing it at Carnoustie on a windy championship Sunday is ridiculous. That doesn’t happen. 

It was a stone cold round. Showing absolutely no pulse. Even if he did admit that he went to the practice greens right when he was done, not to prepare for more golf in the event of a tie, but to avoid watching it all on TV, because he’d probably get sick.

For most of the day, Molinari wasn’t the guy. And even after he won, I’m still not sure he’s the guy. He was the guy walking with the guy. 

But when the guy doubled 11 and bogeyed 12, Molinari kept on working. He did what nobody ever did back in the day – paired with Tiger Woods on a Sunday in a major and outplayed him. Get with Tiger on a Sunday in his prime was guaranteed to add four shots to your round. You were staring at a 76 before you even teed it up. But Molinari blocked out that pressure and shot 2-under. 

While everyone was getting nostalgic and preparing to celebrate like it was 2008, Molinari crashed that party bigtime. And he didn't do it by ripping the title in dramatic fashion. It was the opposite of drama. It was so totally professional, you can't help but hype the guy.

Playing on a course you don’t like, playing with a legend, with everyone completely losing their minds, and you don’t blink; you don’t flinch. You’re the champ, even if your friends and family are the only ones in the world who were rooting for. Man’s game. F.  It may not have looked spectacular but it was unbelievable.  What a tremendous round, in the worst conditions on the biggest stage.