PARIS (AFP) – Newly-crowned British Open champion Francesco Molinari climbed to a career-high world ranking of sixth on Monday, as 14-time major winner Tiger Woods edged back into the top 50.
Molinari became the first Italian in history to win one of golf’s four majors on Sunday with a flawless final-round 69 at Carnoustie, and has jumped nine places in the rankings and now tops the European Ryder Cup points list.
The 35-year-old started 2018 outside the top 20, but his strong recent form had already produced wins in the European PGA Championship and the Quicken Loans National.
Woods, who has struggled with back injuries, was outside the world’s top 1,000 before his latest comeback late last year, but leapt 21 spots to 50th courtesy of finishing tied for sixth behind the Molinari.
The American star needed to break the top 50 in order to qualify for the last-ever WGC Bridgestone Invitational event to be held at Firestone in Ohio next month – a tournament he has won eight times.
The 42-year-old just about managed that thanks to late dropped shots from Jordan Spieth in Scotland, bumping him up from a tie for seventh which would have seen him miss out.
But that will only be a small consolation for Woods after leading 10 holes into his final round before slipping away to fail in his bid to claim a first major title for over 10 years.
He has been one of the highest-paid athletes in the world and is considered by some as one of the greatest golfers of all time.
Dustin Johnson remains at the top of the rankings, although Englishman Justin Rose is the new world number two after finishing in a four-way tie for second at the Open to leapfrog Justin Thomas.