Francesco happy to go it alone
There will only be one Molinari at Medinah but Francesco insists the unique bond will still be there with his band of European brothers
The chants rang out loud and clear through the mist and drizzle as the Italian brothers crossed the bridge to the first tee of the Twenty Ten Course: “There’s only two Molinaris, two Molinaris, there’s only two Molinaris.”
Francesco and Edoardo, bound by blood and two decades of golfing side by side, were about to make their Ryder Cup debut, but the tension and nerves were for a few seconds forgotten as the crowd’s support prompted laughter from the two men.
Two years on and Francesco is once again preparing for golf’s greatest team contest, for the pressure cooker atmosphere on the course, for the battle which will ultimately bring joy or despair.
This time he is on his own.
Edoardo’s season – and his hopes of qualifying for José María Olazábal’s team – has been wrecked by an injured wrist which required surgery, meaning there will be only one Molinari in Medinah.
“It was great having Edoardo there for the first time we both played in The Ryder Cup,” said Francesco, the younger of the two by a couple of years. “We spent a lot of time together during the week, playing together and talking a lot. We supported each other.
“Even though we were both rookies, we felt very much a part of the team. That was one of the great things about Monty (Colin Montgomerie); he made everyone feel important. He was so good at that. Even the new guys really felt like they belonged on that team.
“It will be very different this time without Edoardo there, and I’m sad he won’t be there, but I have a lot of friends in the team and I’m sure we will bond a lot in the days leading up to the match.”
One of The European Tour’s most consistent performers over the last three seasons, Francesco reserved his seat to Chicago with victory in the Reale Seguros Open de España in April and confirmed his booking with back-to-back runner-up finishes in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and the Alstom Open de France.
Add to that a sixth place finish in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles and a final round of seven under par 65 in the BMW Italian Open presented by CartaSi – his last competitive outing before The Ryder Cup – and the diminutive Molinari will be a major asset for Olazábal.
His accuracy both off the tee and into greens is up there with the best on The European Tour, and this year he has the benefit of experience, having withstood the pressure of the big occasion at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2010.
“It was an intense week,” Molinari recalled. “I remember the first few days going really slowly. There was lots of non-golf stuff to do with media work and photo shoots, but all I could think about was getting going on that Friday. It seemed to take ages to arrive, but once it did it went so quickly after that.
“We didn’t start so well, but it was great on Sunday not to lose any matches and then Monday was a rollercoaster of emotions. We began the day in a very strong position, but then the Americans came back. So when G-Mac won it for us it was such a big relief more than anything.
“It will be a new experience playing in America. The crowd will be mostly against us rather than with us, so it will be daunting and a new type of pressure. There is a big Italian community in Chicago, but I imagine they will still be supporting the Americans. We’ll have to see.
“It will be a pressure that is very different from anything I’ve experienced before. But as an athlete, I thrive on any kind of pressure, so I’m looking forward to it.
“The guys said to me in Wales that standing on the first tee on the first day of The Ryder Cup is always something special and always nerve-wracking. It’s good to know they still feel that after playing in a number of Ryder Cups.”