2018 British Open: McIlroy makes a major move at Open before bowing to Molinari

Jul 22, 2018; Carnoustie, Angus, SCT; Rory McIlroy during the final round of The Open Championship golf tournament at Carnoustie Golf Links. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Steve Flynn/USA TODAY Sports

2018 British Open: McIlroy makes a major move at Open before bowing to Molinari

2018 British Open

2018 British Open: McIlroy makes a major move at Open before bowing to Molinari

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Dispel any notions that Rory McIlroy doesn’t know how to grind it out in a major when he’s not quite at his best. Don’t question his ability to play in a wind, and don’t do a Butch Harmon and suggest he’s robotic.

McIlroy destroyed all those theories in the 147th British Open. Only Francesco Molinari’s brilliance kept McIlroy from getting his hands on the Claret Jug again. Take the Italian out of the equation and McIlroy’s in a five-man playoff at 6-under par instead of two shots behind in a tie for second place.

With the winds blowing 20 mph across the toughest course in the Open rota, McIlroy seemingly didn’t have a chance in the final round. Two bogeys in his first five holes suggested the Northern Irishman was going to emulate Masters Sunday and shoot himself out of contention after starting just four shots off the lead. Birdies at the ninth and 11th holes got him within two shots of Tiger Woods’ 7-under-par lead. A bogey at 12 seemed to knock the stuffing out of him, but then came a 50-foot eagle putt across the par-5, 14th green that got him back in the mix. Level par over the last four for a 1-under-par 70 just wasn’t enough to catch Molinari.

For a man who measures success in major trophies, McIlroy was relaxed after falling just short of his fifth major. Maybe that’s because he stuck to his gameplan of being as aggressive as possible. The former World No. 1 freewheeled it every chance he got, often hitting drivers when others were using irons.

“Not really frustrated,” he said. “I played well. “Anything under par out there today was a good score. I’m happy with how I played. I didn’t get off to a great start, but I hung in there, and I battled back.

“I did what I needed to do. I holed some clutch putts coming down the stretch. I’ll look back at this week and be very encouraged about what I’ve done, and the golf that I played.”

A Woods/Rory battle down the stretch would have made this Open extra special. McIlroy intended to win that battle.

“I thought Tiger was going to win,” he said. “My mindset was go and spoil the party here. It was cool. It was really cool.

“I have no regrets. I played the way I wanted to play this week. It gives me a lot of encouragement going into the final major of the year. I don’t really feel like it’s a defeat. I feel like it’s a good week. One guy out of 156 is going to win, 155 other guys are going to leave a little disappointed. I committed to everything. I hit the shots when I needed to. I just ran out of holes.”

But not out of commitment. We’ve grown accustomed to McIlroy either winning these marquee events at a canter or producing brilliance when needed to separate himself from the rest. Carnoustie proved he can gut it out too. Gwk

(Note: The story appears in the August 2018 issue of Golfweek.)

Latest

More Golfweek
Home