Because Jordan Spieth was tumbling down the board, the beginning of a birdie-less 76.
Seven players had a share of the lead at some point.
Through all that, Molinari never flinched. He didn’t make a bogey on the normally tough Carnoustie links. He poured it in, raised his right fist and shook it lightly before slamming it for emphasis.
The 35-year-old then had to wait to see if anyone could catch him.
Justin Rose continued his fine form at Carnoustie over the weekend with a final round of 69 to go to the clubhouse as the early leader on six under. Playing with Tiger was another challenge.
“That was good. I played well today”. “It didn’t feel any different to be next to the lead and knowing what I need to do”.
By contrast, Molinari was rewarded for a patient approach that returned two birdies and no bogeys as the Italian triumphed by two strokes to win a maiden major title.
Kevin Kisner has dropped out of the lead at the British Open after a double bogey and a bogey in his first three holes.
Francesco Molinari had a 66 and will play in the third-to-last group with Woods.
A charging Woods had taken the lead with nine holes to play as the leaders suffered in the testing winds.
Woods rolled back the years in round three with a stunning 66, but he missed a 10-footer for birdie at the opening hole before following up with another par at the second.
For much of the afternoon it looked as though everything was falling into place for Woods to pull off a barely believable victory, his first of any description since 2013, the 15th major of his fantastic career and a first since the 2008 US Open. “It’s the best golfers in history, and to be on there, it’s incredible”, Molinari said.
Yet his recent form, two wins and two runners-up finishes in his last five tournaments, should have served as a warning on a day when a steady hand was needed on the tiller.
No one in the final two groups was able to threaten Molinari.
When Schauffele’s par putt stayed out on the 17th the Italian puffed out his cheeks knowing only an eagle for the American at the last could deny him.
The four-times major victor made par at the 15th to stay on six-under, along with overnight leaders Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele, and Francesco Molinari and Kevin Chappell.
Sunday’s result was not what numerous thousands who tracked through the humps and hollows of the links course wanted, though it probably was for the male spectator who heckled Woods as he hit his drive at the final hole. “But there can only be one victor”. But while they were all over par on the front nine, he made birdie on No. 4 and then added another on the par-5 sixth. The roars for his two birdies could be heard from all corners of Carnoustie. For the first time I felt like I was ready for it.
More than three hours before the co-leaders tee off, Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner have a little more company.
Woods sent his second shot into the gallery, with the ball rebounding out into the rough.
Woods lost the lead with one bad swing that would have been even farther left of the 11th green had it not crashed into the fans, leading to double bogey.
“I think he’s got a great chance”, Norris said. It’s the closest he’s been to the lead in a major since five years ago at Muirfield.
It also cost the three-time major champion a pretty large wad of cash.
Constantino Rocca was famously beaten in a play-off by John Daly in the 1995 Open Championship at St Andrew’s but finally Italy has its champion.
“I probably would have felt sick watching on TV”, he said. I’m sure she’ll probably call me and talk to me about it because you’ve got to put things in perspective.