"So I ducked my head after I made double bogey. He knows how hard I've been working to get here, so I think he felt the same proudness that I felt".
That vaulted McIlroy into a six-way tie for the lead and Rose joined the expanding group on six under with a tap-in birdie on 18, two days after he needed a birdie on the same hole just to make the cut.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth went into the final round tied for the lead with Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, but stumbled to the turn in 39 and Kisner managed one shot worse to throw the tournament wide open.
Molinari, whose older brother Edoardo won the 2005 U.S. Amateur and played with him in the 2010 Ryder Cup, comes from a country known more for soccer and skiing than golf.
"It wasn't the birdie, it was actually when he was walking from the 13th green to the 14th tee", McIlroy said. "That was a real positive for me, and it renewed the love of the Open for me".
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Going into Sunday's final round, the Open Championship leaderboard was dominated by Americans.
It was a memorable moment for Molinari, whose two-shot victory at Carnoustie was all-the-more impressive as he partnered a resurgent Tiger Woods on the final day and had to watch the 14-time major victor take the lead himself at one point.
Molinari said that playing alongside Tiger Woods for the final round added to the pleasure.
Whether Tiger Woods will ever match Jack Nicklaus' 18 major titles remains to be seen, but as long as he remains eligible for Sunday golf, advertisers will want to share the spotlight with him. The last time Woods won a PGA Tour event was five full years ago.
Two hours earlier, Woods had one hand on the Claret Jug for what would have been the fourth time after surging to the lead with a flawless front nine on a day when the previously missing wind finally bared some teeth.
For now, though, McIlroy should bottle up what he did on 14 and look to replicate that throughout the end of the course.
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"If I win the Senior Open, I'll definitely be back for The Open again, wherever that is".
"I know it's going to sting for a little bit here, but given where I was to where I am now, (I feel) blessed".
"For a while, I thought Tiger was going to win", Rory McIlroy said.
"I played patiently. I put good swings on it".
Tiger Woods made a whole lot of golf fans happy this weekend, as the 42-year-old duffer's Lazarus act during the final round of the British Open helped NBC deliver the biggest audience for golf's longest-running showcase in almost two decades.
"My mindset was go and spoil the party here", the Northern Irishman said.
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