Molinari the Magnificent: Five tournaments that forged a major champion
Francesco Molinari arrived in Carnoustie as arguably the most in-form golfer around but perhaps his mixed record at The Open meant he was overlooked.
After missing the cut at the Players’ Championship in May, the 35-year old has gone on a wonder run, with three wins and two seconds in his last six tournaments.
Here’s a look at five tournaments that laid a foundation to his win on the Angus coast, where he became the first Italian to win a major championship.
John Deere Classic (Second) - July 12-July 15
Michael Kim wins the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour a week before The Open but Molinari is second after an impressive final round, finishing eight shots back.
“Everything is coming together now,” he said, without knowing what was to come.
“Last year I didn’t play before The Open; I went to Birkdale to study the course, and it didn’t work out. I had to play an event I hadn’t played in the previous four years, and thought it would be good to keep it going right until The Open.”
It proved a good strategy.
Quicken Loans National (winner) - June 28-July 1
He had never won a PGA title but Molinari produced a brilliant eight-under-par final round to win in dominant fashion - eight shots his huge advantage of Ryan Armour at the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, a tournament hosted by his final round playing partner Tiger Woods.
"The thought was just to keep pushing, keep making birdies and don't give anyone a chance,” he said.
"I played great, I’m looking forward to the weeks ahead.” Did he know something we didn't?
US Open (tied 25th) - June 14-June 17
Molinari finishes 11 shots back of winner Brooks Koepka, in a tie for 25th. That was his fifth top-30 finish at the US Open since 2009.
Italian Open (second) - May 31-June 3
Francesco Molinari had won his home tournament in 2006 and 2016 but just missed out on a third win at the Gardagolf Country Club, finishing one shot behind Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen.
“I’m super happy,” said Molinari. “It’s been a great week. I scored better than I played all week to be honest, I’m super happy with my form.”
BMW PGA Championship (winner) 24 May-27 May
This was his fifth and biggest European Tour win, another nerveless final round securing him the biggest cheque of his career and a two-shot victory over Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, now a fellow Champion Golfer.
“This is the most significant win of my career,” he said, perhaps not knowing what was going to follow a few weeks later. “Hopefully this gives me a chance at the Ryder Cup, I’ve been on two winning teams and it hurts to watch on television.”
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