Tiger Woods briefly looked like he would produce a breakthrough win at The Open Championship before settling for a tie for sixth as Francesco Molinari became the first Italian golfer to win a major.
On a thrilling final day at Carnoustie, Molinari lifted the Claret Jug on Monday morning (AEST) thanks to a blemish-free final round of 69.
The 35-year-old finished two shots clear of American pair Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele, Englishman Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland.
Woods was a further shot back, alongside compatriot Kevin Chappell and England’s Eddie Pepperell, but the day belonged to Molinari.
On a difficult day for golf in Scotland, most players, including Australian Adam Scott, dropped shots, but Molinari remained steady.
He started his fourth round – which came just hours after a sizzling 65 brought the World No. 15 storming into contention – with 13 successive pars.
A birdie at the 14th followed and Molinari added another on the 18th to finish the tournament at eight under.
Then it was time to watch, with Schauffele – not day three co-leader Jordan Spieth – Molinari’s main threat.
Spieth went crashing out of contention with a five-over 76 and Schauffele was similarly off the pace, carding a three-over 74.
He was still in the hunt going into the last hole, though, Schauffele needing an eagle – after a 17th hole bogey – to force a play-off.
It seemed unlikely and it was, allowing Molinari to begin the celebrations.
“It is absolutely amazing,” he said in the aftermath.
“I think it will take a long time to sink in. It has been a great week.
“The course bit me a few times in the first two days, but to go bogey-free around this track at the weekend is incredible.”
Record crowds attended the links course over the weekend as Woods threatened to win his first major title in 10 years.
The American – a 14-time major winner – has battled a range of injury and personal problems over the past decade but hit a five-under 66 on Saturday to take a share of the lead at a major for the first time since 2013.
Woods’ playing partner, Shaun Norris, said that it was like “playing with a mythical creature” on Saturday, as hopes of a Woods-Spieth battle on the final day grew.
Even Spieth talked that up, insisting it would be a “dream come true”, but it was not to be as he faded badly.
The same cannot be said for Woods, though, who enjoyed a moment in the outright lead after two front-nine birdies.
But just when fans began to dream, Woods produced a double-bogey on the 11th that he never really recovered from.
He finished with an even-par 71 but the signs were particularly encouraging, given that Woods carded his lowest 72-hole score at a major since 2012.
How did the Aussies go?
Adam Scott went into Sunday’s play five shots off the lead in a tie for 13th, but dropped into a tie for 17th after a two-over 73.
Fresh off a 68 on Saturday, hopes were high for Scott, but two front nine bogeys and one double-bogey slashed his chances of victory.
He improved on the back nine, adding three birdies to finish alongside Jason Day on a tournament score of two under.
Day hit a last-day 68 to finish well.
Other Australians to complete the tournament were Cameron Davis (tied 39th), Lucas Herbert (tied 51st), Marc Leishman (60th), Brett Rumford (tied 61st) and Cameron Smith (78th).