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Golf’s oldest championship is all about tradition, and this is one Francesco Molinari could have done without. Fifty-one weeks after he won the British Open and gazed at his name etched on the silver claret jug, he had to return it. Getting it back won’t be easy.
Climbing down a cliff and riding in a golf cart are among the things players mostly need to avoid when trying to contend for a U.S. Open. Francesco Molinari did both in the span of about five minutes on Friday, and a promising ride up the leaderboard turned into something much different. Molinari played his last two holes in 3-over par to drop from second place to completely off the leaderboard, shooting 1-over 72 and finishing at 2-under 140 heading into the weekend at Pebble Beach.
For the past month, the golf world has been riding the high of seeing Tiger Woods win the Masters. What has been forgotten is Woods’ unexpected victory pretty much was courtesy of British Open champion Francesco Molinari. Molinari had a two-shot lead with seven holes to play and let it slip away with a pair of double bogeys after finding the water at Augusta National. The Italian is now taking aim at his second major title, the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.
Francesco Molinari is looking to conjure up the mental energy to compete at the RBC Heritage after a collapsing on the final nine holes at the Masters. Molinari carried a two-shot lead into the final seven holes before a pair of double-bogeys dropped him from contention and into fifth behind champion Tiger Woods. Molinari says his challenge this week is bouncing back to contend after a high-profile fall at Augusta National.
Francesco Molinari still recalls his first experience at the Masters, especially the nerves of trying to pick the right club for the par-3 12th, all while having defending champion Tiger Woods in the same group. That was 13 years ago. He was caddying for his brother. The Italian now plays the Masters as a player who can’t be overlooked.
Kirk Triplett made a 12-foot eagle putt on the second hole of a playoff with Woody Austin to win the Hoag Classic for his seventh PGA Tour Champions victory.
At roughly the same time, in two singles matches on two greens at Le Golf National separated by 150 yards of water, Francesco Molinari and Sergio Garcia each made par to secure at least a half-point, either one giving Europe the 14
Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood walked down the fairway after delivering another big point in the Ryder Cup, side by side with their arms around each other’s shoulder.
Francesco Molinari was the “other” guy, a check-your-program placeholder, somebody to watch Sunday when the wall-to-wall spectators blocked a clear vantage of the superstar in his pairing, Tiger Woods.