An Interview With: FRANCESCO MOLINARI

 

KELLY ELBIN: Appearing in his second consecutive Ryder Cup, Francesco Molinari of Europe joins us at the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club outside of Chicago.

You had an opportunity to play with some guys this afternoon, your first time on Ryder Cup in the United States versus Europe. Any sense of the difference between the two so far?

FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Well, yeah, there are obviously a few differences. You know, we went out today mainly to get a feel for the golf course and for the atmosphere. The fans were great with us, as well, and we just had fun.

It feels a bit different compared to what it was two years ago. Obviously the first Ryder Cup is always I think a bit more tough. You don't know exactly what to expect. I've got the experience this year, so I hope it's going to help a little bit.

Obviously playing in the United States is going to be a little bit different, but I think I'm ready for the challenge.

KELLY ELBIN: Had you played Medinah before, and what are your thoughts on the golf course?

FRANCESCO MOLINARI: No, it was my first time, and I think it's a great golf course. You know, it's a classical, American parkland golf course. The greens are already great firm and fast, and there's obviously not a lot of rough.

But I think it still requires to be accurate with the shots to the green. It's going to be a good challenge for everyone.

Q. Davis Love was talking both today and yesterday, and he was saying that he very much wants to see a Ryder Cup that's fun and a fun atmosphere, and he talked about from his point of view, birdies are fun, and he has say in the setup of the course as the host captain, and he said that he wants Medinah to yield a lot of birdies and birdie opportunities. You've just played the course for the first time; just comment a little bit if you think that he has accomplished his goal in doing that.

FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Yeah, I think if you  obviously if you hit the ball well off the tees, and as I said, especially with the irons, you're playing a few short irons to the greens, so you have some good chances. The greens are pure, so wherever you are on the putting surface, it's a good chance of holing the putt.

Yeah, I think what Davis said, it's a fair representation of how the golf course is playing so far.

Q. You guys play in a very, very individualistic sport, and those of you that qualified to do so have an opportunity to represent, in your case, your continent, represent Europe, and you're playing as a team. Talk a little bit about that different experience of playing for a team and also about the chemistry of this team, how it's coming together.

FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Yeah, I think as you said, as golfers, this is basically our only chance to play in a team, as part of a team, and it just gives you a different perspective.

It's completely different to play when you know that there's 11 guys relying on you. The atmosphere in the team is great so far. There's many of you who were on the team two years ago, as well, and Sergio obviously was there as a vice captain.

I think it's a very good group. Everyone is pushing in the same direction, and I'm just honored to be part of such a team with obviously great individual players but as well with a great team atmosphere.

KELLY ELBIN: Were there any particular holes that stood out today or anything in particular that the four of you worked on, tried to think about being out there?

FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Well, not really. As I said, for the four of us, it was the first time out there, so we just tried to get a feel for the course in general.

I think the par 3s are obviously quite tough and are going to play a big role this week. Some of the par 5s from the back tees that we played today are not reachable, but obviously they can move the tee forward.

I think that's another thing about the golf course, that they can move a lot of tees and change the setup quite a bit from one day to the other.

Q. How are you feeling about your own game at the moment?

FRANCESCO MOLINARI: It's feeling good. I had two weeks off after Gleneagles. I took quite a bit of time off from practicing, and I think I just needed really to switch off a little bit. I've been playing in Italy two weeks ago, was feeling a bit rusty there after the break, but I've been practicing hard there and practicing hard last week.

I think the game is ready. Obviously putting is going to be a big part of this week, especially the way the golf course is set up. I'll probably focus on that in these last few days remaining, and hopefully I'll have a good Ryder Cup.

Q. Over here the Ryder Cup obviously is a massive deal. What's your impression of how it's going to be received in Italy?

FRANCESCO MOLINARI: It was big two years ago when both me and Edoardo were on the team. I think it's important for Italian golf to have at least one player on the team for two consecutive Ryder Cups. I think it only happened with Constantino Rocca a few years ago.

There's a good coverage on TV. All the people I spoke to when it was over two weeks ago were really supportive, and I'm sure it's going to be received as a big deal, and it's going to be talked about on the papers, as well.

I'll try to do my best, you know, to make the Italians fun and enjoy the Ryder Cup as much as possible.

Q. As you mentioned, your first Ryder Cup experience you had your brother there. A, how important was that, to have him playing alongside of you in a first Ryder Cup which can bring on a lot of nerves and pressure and so forth? And B, do you know if he's planning on coming over? Is he here, as well?

FRANCESCO MOLINARI: No, he's not here, basically because he just got back from his injury two weeks ago in Italy, so he needed some time at home practicing, and he's playing next week in Scotland.

Two years ago it was great to have each other there. We spent a lot of time together. We talked a lot to each other. Obviously we played two matches together. I think it helped both of us to have our own brother there to talk and just to speak, to ask advice if you needed to.

It definitely feels different this year without him. You know, it's going to be a bit of a different challenge to me to bond with someone else, which I didn't really have to do as much two years ago.

I'm looking forward to it.

Q. This is your first time at Medinah, and also you haven't played that much in America. How would you rate the course, and how do you feel about its setup and everything today compared with what you've seen previously when you've played over here?

FRANCESCO MOLINARI: I think it's similar to the majors we play over here as far as the greens are really firm and fast, and obviously the main difference is that the rough is not quite as thick as we usually find here.

As I said, it's a classical American course, really nice to play. You need to shape the ball both ways. It's going to be important to be accurate with the irons. There's some big drop offs off the greens.

I think it's going to be fun for the spectators and fun for us, as well, hopefully having loads of birdie chances and making most of them.

KELLY ELBIN: Francesco Molinari, thank you very much.

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