Francesco made in Italy, refined in England

Francesco Molinari after winning the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

Francesco Molinari after winning the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

Francesco Molinari’s game may have been built in Italy, but it was improved in England.

Those refinements helped Molinari to victory Nov. 7 in the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament, the biggest win of his career.

Englishmen Denis Pugh and Mark Roe are credited for turning the younger of the two Molinari brothers into one of the world’s best players. Pugh has taken a good swing and turned it into a great one, while former European Tour pro Roe has given Molinari a short game to match his peerless long game.

Molinari grew up in Turin and was fortunate to have parents who played golf. Although Francesco and elder brother Edoardo are avid football fans, they started accompanying their parents to Circolo Golf Club as soon as they were old enough to hold golf clubs.

Circolo club pro Sergio Bertaina recognized the talent in both Molinari brothers and took them under his wing. Bertaina was a huge influence on both boys, especially Francesco.

“My biggest influence was Sergio Bertaina because he coached me when I was a boy,” Francesco Molinari said. “Then when I was 18, he joined the national coaching squad, so I continued to see him when I was playing in tournaments like the British Amateur Championship and Eisenhower Trophy.”

Molinari was introduced to Pugh in 2003 through a friend. Pugh has been so instrumental in Molinari’s development, that the Italian now resides in London so he can be close to Pugh’s teaching base at Wisley Golf Club, west of London.

Pugh has coached on the European Tour for more than 20 years, and counts Colin Montgomerie among his former clients. He didn’t have to perform major surgery on Molinari’s swing, just tweak it in places.

“The great thing about Francesco is that he had very good basics before he came to me,” Pugh said. “All I had to really do was make minor refinements just to make him more consistent.”

Molinari’s short game didn’t quite match up to his long game. That much was obvious when he missed a number of short putts in the Ryder Cup. Enter Mark Roe.

Roe joined forces with Francesco late this season, and the Italian has rapidly improved as a result.

“What amazes me about Francesco is he takes things on board very quickly,” Roe said. “We spent a good long session on the Tuesday before the Portugal Masters, and then he went out and shot two 62s in the tournament, his lowest scores ever on tour. Not many guys can do that.

“With the improvements he’s making to his short game, along with his great long game, the sky’s the limit for Francesco.”

Molinari proved that by winning in China. Don’t be surprised if English influences carry him to major glory in the next few seasons.

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