Q&A: Steve Molinelli, caddie by the Bay

Caddie Steve Molinelli, who sells and appraises dental practices by day, likes to pick up a bag when a major USGA or local amateur event is played near his San Francisco home. The Olympic Club member looped for quarterfinalist Casie Cathrea last week at the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, Calif., for Colt Knost when he won the 2007 U.S. Amateur at Olympic and for Ryo Ishikawa at last month’s U.S. Open there. The 46-year-old is a member of the First Tee of San Francisco board of directors, and plays to a plus-1 handicap.

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How does Casie’s game compare to a top male amateur or a pro?

Her ball-striking is phenomenal and better than most of the male amateurs that I play with. She plays with so much authority. I was really impressed at the U.S. Open watching guys hit on the range. I didn’t see anybody hit one thin, I didn’t see anybody hit one fat, and it’s been the same with Casie all week.

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Which course, Lake Merced or Olympic, sets up better for match play?

Olympic Club is a great match-play course because par on any hole out there is a great score. However, out here I think there’s a little bit more risk-reward opportunities with the par 5s. . . . I think there’s better opportunities in match play (at Olympic). Still, Lake Merced is also a course where par is a good score on any hole, even the par 5s. There are no sure birdies there on either of those. I think they’re both of very similar caliber. Olympic Club might have the edge on the par 3s simply because of the distance there.

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How does a USGA championship that features match play prepare a player for a pro career?

I think any USGA event is a major on anybody’s calendar. I think it prepares you for big-time events and how to maybe trust yourself and prepare yourself for an event where you’re going to have a lot more attention placed on you than other events.

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A lot kids from the First Tee San Francisco were standard bearers and ball spotters for the Girls’ Junior. Why is it important to get them out for a tournament like this?

It’s important that they learn that there’s so many different things that you can do with golf, not just playing it, whether it’s marshaling at the Presidents Cup or the Charles Schwab Cup or coming out here and being a standard bearer.

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