Leaders near teeing off in British Open

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Talking after his round to Golf Digest, Woods couldn't hide his excitement heading into a Sunday of a major championship, claiming he hasn't felt this way on the golf course in years.

Because Jordan Spieth was tumbling down the board, the beginning of a birdie-less 76.

On a day that was ideal for low scoring, Woods let rip with his driver and tucked into the birdie buffet with his red-hot putter, briefly grabbing a share of the lead. Six months ago. Nine months ago.

Through all that suspense, Molinari never flinched.

The dangers lurking for the title contenders were all too apparent though with Shaun Norris, playing partner of an inspired Tiger Woods on Saturday, making a quadruple-bogey eight on the first hole.

Francesco Molinari celebrates a birdie putt at The Open.

Molinari raised his fist and shook it lightly before slamming it for emphasis.

Early on, though, that old familiar Tiger charge - missing for several years due to personal problems and back issues - seemed to be on the cards as the packed gallery appeared to energise him. They all dropped shots on a day when there was no time to be going backward.

"Playing with Tiger makes it even more special".

"I felt good about the range session". "It didn't feel any different to be next to the lead and knowing what I need to do".

But Molinari wasn't finished yet and he brought the house down with a birdie at the final hole for a round of 69 and a total of 276. Even par through 36 holes, he stepped on the gas Saturday, during the most benign day for scoring, carding a 66 to get within striking distance of the leaders. The American topped the leaderboard until his hopes nosedived following a double-bogey at the 11th and another dropped stroke at the next hole.

It could also lead to early players leapfrogging over the group of players - and there are seven in all - tied with Woods for sixth place and making it even more hard to move up the leaderboard.

Over the daunting closing stretch, Woods watched helplessly as Molinari, as reliable as the tide coming in off the North Sea, plodded his way to victory.

Now at a career-best No. 6 in the world, he has won three times and been runner-up twice in his last six tournaments.

No one in the final two groups was able to threaten Molinari.

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Francesco Molinari was tied for the lead with Schauffele before hitting a brilliant approach to the 18th and converting the short birdie putt.

Americans Kevin Kisner, Kevin Chappell and Xander Schauffele were also five under with nine to play, with Rory McIlroy a shot further back after a three-putt bogey on the 12th. Schauffele has two holes remaining.

Molinari was on the putting green, not so much to get ready for a playoff, but he couldn't bear to watch.

"Sometimes I have a few drinks", said Pepperell, who finished as Woods was in the lead. "But there can only be one victor. I needed help. It was a tough time".

Justin Rose, who made the cut with an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole of the second round, is 5 under through 15 holes and 2 under for the tournament.

All of them made mistakes, big and small.

The yellow grass of a dry summer in Scotland comes to life Sunday because of a red shirt at the British Open. The roars for his two birdies could be heard from all corners of Carnoustie.

But perhaps it's no coincidence that once Woods took the lead for the first time, he frittered it away nearly immediately.

Woods was at 7 under, in control of his game and hitting shots that only he can.

Again on the 10th he found sand with his tee shot, grimacing at the realisation but once more he produced a stunning shot from the bunker to get the ball to the edge of the green before parring again.

Then his tee shot went right, and his second shot veered way left. Another poor swing followed and led to another bogey, and just like that, Woods was two shots behind.

"I'm sure anybody within four or five shots can win".

"It was great to get the crowd behind me".

"To look at the names on that Claret Jug, what can you say?"

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.

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