Tiger Woods found himself in the outright lead in the final round of the British Open on Sunday after a solid start, combined with slip-ups from defending champion Jordan Spieth and the other pacesetters.
But a double bogey on 11 dashed Woods' hopes of capturing his first major victory since 2008.
Playing alongside a rejuvenated Tiger Woods, Molinari followed 13 straight pars with a birdie on the 14th and finished a brilliant round in fitting style with another from just three feet on the 18th.
The 35-year-old also finally delivered a major win for his country, going one step further than Costantino Rocca, who famously lost in a play-off to John Daly at St Andrews in 1995. It's the best golfers in history and to be on there it's incredible.
He begun the day in a three-way tie with fellow Americans Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, two strokes clear of the field, but slumped to tied ninth place with a five-over 76 as a strong westerly breeze blew him off course. He pulled his shot from the rough on No. 11 into the gallery, fluffed a wedge short of the green, ran it by 8 feet and missed the putt for double bogey.
"I was like, I feel fine".
Schauffele was tied for the lead with Molinari at 7-under before Molinari birdied 18 ahead of him and Schauffele bogeyed the 17th hole, meaning he needed to eagle the par-4 18th to force a playoff.
"I know it's going to sting for a little bit here, but given where I was to where I am now, I feel blessed", he said. Schauffele has two holes remaining.
At this time previous year, Woods was only a few months removed from a Hail Mary fusion surgery; from a humiliating DUI arrest in which he was found slumped behind the wheel of his vehicle, with five drugs in his system; from a month-long stay in a rehab clinic to manage his sleep medications. His second on Friday had been required just to make the cut on the mark of three over par.
- Woods reflects on being greeted by his children after the round.
In fact, there are dropped shots everywhere in the final round at Carnoustie, where the wind is playing havoc.
Choking up, Woods said, "I told them I tried, and I said, 'Hopefully you're proud of your Pops for trying as hard as I did.' It's pretty emotional, because they gave me some pretty significant hugs there and squeezed. You put yourself in position enough times, it goes your way some, doesn't go your way some".
Adam Scott and Jason Day will wonder what might have been after Australia's British Open title drought extended to 25 years with another unsuccessful tilt at Carnoustie. "Ferrari won today? If they won, they probably get the headlines". "I was just happy to have a chance to win with four or five holes to play". Unfortunately, I hit a bad 3 iron off the tee there at 10.
Molinari was not at all fazed by the huge crowds and the media circus following Woods, and he did not have a single bogey all day, following on from a blemish-free 65 on Saturday.
Apparently, prior to these three big wins, Molinari was already joking about an early retirement.
But Woods made the most of his good fortune to make par and added: "It kept me in the fight".
Australian Open champion Cameron Davis closed with an impressive 1-under 70 to finish in the top 40 on his major championship debut.