CHAMPION GOLFER OF THE YEAR: Italy’s Francesco Molinari celebrates with the Claret Jug after winning the Open Championship at Carnoustie yesterday. He won by two stokes and did not drop a shot over the weekend to claim his first Major. Picture: Reuters
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland: Francesco Molinari became Italy’s first major champion after firing a closing two-under-par 69 to win the British Open at Carnoustie yesterday.

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.

Molinari, playing alongside former world No 1 Tiger Woods in the final round, produced a joyful first-pump and hugged his caddie after holing a five-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole.

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

He also ended as runner-up in the other two tournaments.

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.

The 14-time major winner had to settle for a closing 71 and a 279 aggregate.

“The way Francesco played today was beautiful,” said Woods after ending in a tie for sixth spot.

England’s Justin Rose (69), Rory McIlroy (70) of Northern Ireland and American duo Kevin Kisner (74) and Xander Schauffele (74) finished in joint second place, two shots behind the cool and calm winner. - Reuters