Rocca 'very emotional' after Molinari's Open triumph

Costantino Rocca knows that things can change late on at The Open, but he had to congratulate Francesco Molinari after his birdie at the 18th.

Francesco Molinari with the Claret Jug   -  Getty Images

An emotional Costantino Rocca shed tears of joy for Francesco Molinari as he watched his fellow Italian secure victory at The Open.

Following his major breakthrough, Molinari spoke of how Rocca, who finished as runner-up at the 1995 Open Championship following a playoff, was his idol growing up and dedicated his latest triumph to the veteran.

Rocca famously sunk a 65-foot birdie putt on the 18th to force extra holes against John Daly, but could not stop himself congratulating his fellow Italian when he posted a birdie at the last on Sunday, despite contenders Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele still being out on the course at the time.

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Asked how he reacted to Molinari's triumph, Rocca told Omnisport: "I cried! I was very emotional. Maybe the same thing I proved when I holed the long putt - at the time you don't believe it, because the other guys still have three holes to play, but when I saw he holed the putt I texted him: 'You did fantastic.' And he won. He doesn't have to do much, it's just about continuing [this way]. He has a nice character."

Molinari, who started focusing on the PGA Tour in 2015, is enjoying the best season of his career, having triumphed at the BMW PGA Championship and the Quicken Loans National prior to his success at Carnoustie.

Rocca believes that his compatriot's decision to cut down his European Tour schedule has helped his game reach new heights.

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"Francesco is a special guy. He's a guy who tries hard, even when he was an amateur he's thinking about becoming pro and he works in the right direction. He works hard," he said.

"It's not easy, but the big change he made [was] when he went to America, this is my opinion, because the long game he hit the ball very good, but the short game was a little bit too much technique and he needed a little bit more feeling, and if you go to America you have to do it."

"He changed a lot. I see the way he makes a chip in, the bunker shot, the putting improved 200 per cent in my opinion. The guy who has the long game like him and they have the short game, they are taking the money, the first prize or second prize."

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Molinari is up to sixth in the world rankings after lifting the Claret Jug, and Rocca would like to see him get even higher. "Every time you have to improve something, but the most important now is to keep going, take a little bit easy because after winning a major a lot of people take a lot of your time, but the rest you have to continue like this," he added.

"He can improve everything, but even if this his arrival at a big level, the last three months he's the best player in the world and I hope he comes inside the top five."