BETHPAGE – Reigning British Open champion Francesco Molinari won’t be carrying bad memories from a late Masters collapse on to the course with him this week at the PGA Championship.
The 36-year-old Italian led late in the final round at Augusta National, before a pair of double bogeys on the back nine allowed Tiger Woods to pull away for his 15th career major crown.
“I’ve obviously analysed what happened at Augusta with the people around me, but it was pretty quick, I would say, and straightforward,” Molinari said.
“We got some feedback, most of it on the swing. If I look at Sunday at Augusta, I almost played better on the back nine than on the front nine, like how I was hitting the ball.
“The front nine I wasn’t feeling very comfortable hitting the ball off the tee, and I made a lot of good up-and-downs. But you struggle to build momentum when you’re struggling to save par the whole time.”
Molinari, however, doesn’t rule out that his Masters memories could help him if he is in contention on Sunday at Bethpage Black.
“If I’m up there again on Sunday, maybe I could take something that could be useful from Augusta. But right now, I can’t really think of much,” he said.
“It’s just being in the situation. The more often you get into it, naturally the better you’re going to get at it, the more relaxed you’re going to feel in those conditions.”
There wasn’t any consolation for Molinari in his best Masters finish while battling a cold.
“I wasn’t satisfied at all, but you look at things a bit differently. I was happy the way I fought on Sunday and the way I played, but obviously I was hoping for more at the beginning of the day,” Molinari said.
“Really it was the first time I was leading in a major. At Carnoustie, I got the lead with only four holes to go, so you don’t have even really time to think about it, and it’s done, it’s over.
“Hopefully I can be there many more times and get a bit of luck at the right time.”
Seventh-ranked Molinari has enjoyed a dream 12-month run, winning last May’s European Tour BMW PGA Championship, becoming the first Italian since 1947 to win a US PGA event at the National, then taking his first major title at Carnoustie.
He followed with five wins in as many matches to lead Europe’s Ryder Cup victory over the United States in France, captured the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and just two months ago won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
“I feel very lucky to have been able to play this kind of golf in the last few months, and with every win comes a little more confidence,” Molinari said.
“The job for me now is to do my best to keep it going, and in a few years, hopefully look back and appreciate what I managed to achieve.”
While Molinari enjoys the peak moment of his career, he has confidence that there is also room for improvement.
“I hope this is not my peak. I think there’s more room for improvement,” he said. “You need to keep improving, even just to stay where you are in the ranks.”AFP