Rocca also beat Tiger Woods in the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama and Molinari coincidentally played alongside Woods in the final round at Carnoustie, where a flawless closing 69 saw him become the first Italian victor of a major title.
For four-time major victor Rory McIlroy, who finished tied for second, two shots off Molinari, it is a different Woods to the years of his pomp. That would have been too much to expect even from Tiger Woods, perhaps the supreme competitor in golf of modern times.
'It's amusing when you look back, how Tiger has been involved in so numerous greatest moments for Italian golf, ' he said.
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.
"I did everything the way I thought I needed to do it to win the championship", Tiger said. "Guys like Francesco Molinari have played stellar golf the last couple of months".
"It's unbelievable to stand here with the Claret Jug". The welcome nostalgia trip was short lived, however, as a run of bum luck on the eleventh and twelfth holes cost Woods three strokes just as his playing partner, Molinari, began turning on the jets.
"I'm not really frustrated", McIlroy said after a one-under 70 left him on six-under 278 overall, two behind champion Francesco Molinari of Italy.
But along the way, Woods gave us another vintage moment when he fired a shot into the gallery at the 11th hole ... and the ball somehow spanged rapidly back toward the hole.
"I'll look back at this week and be very encouraged about what I've done, and the golf that I played, and I feel like that will stand me in good stead for what's coming up". Tiger was as back as he's ever going to be, and if that means contending at major championships, then certainly people are going to back him at the betting window. He bogeyed two of his first five holes to leave him six shots off the lead, only for the long eagle putt at No. 14, which elicited one of the most striking celebrations of the tournament, to put him in a five-way share of the lead about 1½ hours later.
"I played with Molinari at Wentworth, where he won, and he didn't miss a shot", said Rory McIlroy.
"I think it was important to break the streak that Americans had gone on winning majors", said Molinari.
"I didn't get off to a great start, but I hung in there, and I have no regrets".
"Unfortunately, that's part of what we have to deal with in today's game".
"Serena and I are good friends", said the 42-year-old, whose last major triumph came back in 2008.