How a major champion missed British Open cut in an extremely painful way
Francesco Molinari digs his white shoes in and swings.
Stop. Freeze it here. Look closely. (You can do this on a video review.) It will also, very likely, be running on replay through Molinari’s head.
See where that golf ball hits the veeeerrry top of the left greenside bunker on the par-3 6th at Royal St. George’s? If that lip is just one golf ball shorter, it clears. But it ain’t.
And Molinari misses the cut at this year’s Open Championship.
By one. Single. Stroke.
Sure, sure, you can fault his bogeys on 3, 10 and 11 on Friday. Or his double on 9. Or any of the birdie putts that came up empty. But the 2018 Open champion’s second shot on 6 was the most agonizing. Though, runner-up may be his third stroke.
Molinari’s ball, after his tee shot, was about two yards short of the 4-foot bunker wall. It would slap the tip of the lip and ricochet back, dropping about 2 feet closer to the bunker face from where it started. There was hope. Molinari could get out, make his putt and run. There was despair. He had just tried that!
Bunker swing two. Molinari’s ball hits the wall lower this time, and it nearly hits him on the rebound. The gallery’s reaction tells it best: “Ohhhh.” They’re not wrong. Bunker swing three from the bunker sees Molinari pivoting 90 degrees to the left and hitting out away from the pin, but also away from the wall. He finally escapes.
From there, Molinari would mark himself down for a seven. A six would have gotten him into the weekend at this year’s final major. So would have a five, a four, a three or a two on the par-3 6th. Instead, that bunker wall was a couple inches too tall. Just about the size of one golf ball.
“It’s no fun, is it? It’s links golf,” analyst Nick Faldo said on the Golf Channel broadcast.