Golf has been played at Carnoustie Golf Links since the early 16th century, and within that time it has earned a reputation as one of the world’s most challenging links courses. Carnoustie had previously hosted The Open on seven occasions, before committing to be the host venue of The 147th Open this year.
With a stellar field and many of golfs top players in contention on final round Sunday, one players consistency was the key to capturing the event. Francesco Molinari of Italy did not card a single bogey Saturday or Sunday at the Open. He finished with one of the greatest performances in Open history, recording a final-round 69 in difficult conditions to win the Claret Jug by two shots over Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele.
"I knew it was going to be tough," said Molinari. "I knew everyone was going to struggle a little bit and I could use it to my advantage."
The winds at Carnoustie had the leaderboard swirling all day around its eventual champion. Molinari entered the day three shots out of the lead following a 5-under 66. But his nine pars in a row on the front nine weren't getting much attention as birdies and bogeys and doubles happened all around him. At one point, six players were tied for the lead at 6 under. Molinari, though, continued with his steady round, hitting a safe tee shot down the right side of the 18th fairway and stuffed his wedge inside Tiger Woods to birdie the final hole and slam the door. Paired with Phil Mickelson in the final round of the 2013 Open at Muirfield, it was now his turn.
"To look at the names on that Claret Jug," said Molinari." It's the best golfers in history, and to be on there, it's incredible. From someone like me coming from Italy, not really a major golfing country, it's been an incredible journey."
The 145th Open Championship will be held this week from July 14-17, 2016 at Royal Troon Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland.
Golf Club Facts:
TV Coverage (EST):
Thursday & Friday, July 14-15: 1:30 AM -- 4 PM (Golf Channel)
Saturday, July 16: 4 AM -- 7 AM (Golf Channel) / 7 AM -- 2:30 PM (NBC)
Sunday, July 17: 4 AM -- 7 AM (Golf Channel) / 7 AM -- 2 PM (NBC)
Fans Top Picks!
Coming off of his first major U.S. Open win and seven top-5 finishes in his past nine starts, DJ is definitely a force to be reckoned with. DJ's ball-striking at Oakmont was breathtaking as he finally claimed his first major. Johnson’s length off the tee will serve him well on the downwind front nine this week, which has a number of driveable par-4s, and be a huge plus coming in against the wind. He’s also had a total of four top 15s in his British Open career, including a T-2 in 2011.
Sergio may still be searching for his first major championship but his game is in undeniably great shape, his last two starts being a recent victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson and a tie for fifth at the U.S. Open. He also has a veteran-like record at the Open Championship with nine career top-10s and two runner-up finishes.
Scott has a total of five (four of which happen to be in a row) top-10s at the Open Championship, including his runner-up finish in 2012. Scott is also playing well this season, gaining back-to-back early season wins in Florida and making 14-of-14 cuts thus far, not to mention he typically plays well on links golf courses.
Since falling one shot short of a playoff last year and ultimately finishing T-4 at St. Andrews, Day had been dominating on the Tour. The Aussie has since managed seven wins worldwide and has placed in the top-10 in his last five major starts. Clearly with three wins already this year alone the PGA Tour’s World No. 1 is coming this week to play.
Although Oosthuizen hasn’t been at the top of his game in some time now, the South African won the British Open in 2010 and was runner-up last year. His picture-perfect swing holds up in windy conditions, which definitely should not go unnoticed. Oosthuizen is also one of just a handful of players in the field who has ever finished in the top two twice in this event.
Best of luck to all the players in the field this week!
The 116th United States Open Championship will be held this week from June 16–19 at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania.
Television coverage: (All times Eastern)
June 16: First round, FS1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fox, 5-8 p.m.
June 17: Second round, FS1, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
June 18: Third round, Fox, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
June 19: Final round, Fox, 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
June 20: Playoff (if necessary), Fox, noon to conclusion (18 holes)
As one of the world’s most anticipated tournaments many are placing their bets for this year’s winner, and at such an unforgiving course such as Oakmont there is a lot to consider when making your prediction for Sunday’s champion.
Here is some key insight into a few of the top players in this week’s field you may not want to overlook:
World No. 1 Jason Day has had seven tournament wins this past year. However, you may not want to forget that it was at last year’s U.S. Open where he suffered spells of vertigo after leading the field 54 holes in. After an unfortunate collapse on the 9th hole during round 2 at Chambers Bay, and the condition again impacting him during round 3 on Saturday, Day ultimately fell out of the lead but still managed a top 10 finish with a final place of T9.
We already know many will be pulling for Jordan Spieth, after all he has finished in the top 5 in his last five major starts. He is also the Open’s defending champion with his win last year marking him the youngest man to win both the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same year. Additionally, I think we all would be happy to see him rebound from his Masters collapse last April.
Fan-favorite Phil Mickelson has had six runner-up finishes at this tournament but has never won. Mickelson even acknowledged this after finishing second at the FedEx St. Jude Classic on Sunday stating, "It almost feels like U.S. Open came a week early to finish another second place". He turns 46 today during round one. The last tournament win he needs to complete a Grand Slam would sure be an awesome birthday gift.
There is definitely no shortage of talent in this week’s field and it will certainly be an exciting week to watch the players compete for the win. The champion though will receive much more than just another U.S. Open Trophy, but with this tournament’s countless unforgettable moments it will also be a chance for a new story to be written in golf history.
Some of my favorites include:
2008 at Torrey Pines when my (and the rest of the world’s) then idol Tiger Woods holed an amazing birdie putt on the 72nd hole to tie veteran Rocco Mediate and force an additional 18-hole playoff was definitely a memorable moment. Viewers watched anxiously as the pair played until the 90th hole as admirable Woods limped through the tournament with an injured knee yet still was able to pull off a miraculous win.
And who could forget arguably the most remarkable U.S. Open moment in 1999 at Pinehurst? One of the most heartwarming tales in the history of the sport was when underdog Payne Stewart held a one-shot lead over Phil Mickelson into the final hole of the tournament. Phil, whose phenomenal career was just on the brink of taking off, wore a beeper the entire round in case his wife Amy went into labor with their first child (Amanda was born the next day). On number 18 Stewart hit a poor tee shot and layed his second shot up leaving him a 15-footer to avoid a playoff and more importantly gain the win. He stroked it perfectly and the ball disappeared into the bottom of the cup. Payne’s second U.S. Open title however preceded tragedy as he died in a plane crash just a few months later. A bronze statue of Stewart celebrating his winning putt at Pinehurst No.2 Course overlooks its 18th green still today.