2006: Dresm Victory for Molinari
The last nine months have been nothing if not exciting for the Molinari family of Torino.
In August, Edoardo Molinari became the first Italian to win the U.S. Amateur. Among his rewards was a trip to the Masters, where his younger brother, Francesco, caddied for him.
Four weeks after that trip to Augusta, it was Francesco who basked in the spotlight. Posting only one bogey in 72 holes, Francesco Molinari scored a four-shot victory May 7 in the Telecom Italia Open at the Club Tolcinasco. He became the first Italian to win his home open since Massimo Mannelli in 1980.
“I never thought I would win so early in my career,” said Molinari, 23, in his second PGA European Tour season after gaining a card via Q-School in 2004.
“I wanted to bring some joy to Italian golf, but I didn’t think that I would do it this year. It’s unbelievable – a dream come true.”
Molinari became the ninth first-time winner on the European Tour this season, thanks to a 23-under-par 265 total that was marred only by a three-putt bogey on the 13th hole in Round 1. Putting has been Molinari’s albatross in an otherwise standout season marked by exceptional ball-striking. He had posted three top 15s coming in, despite averaging 30 putts per round. Molinari needed only 105 putts here, 15 fewer than his average for 72 holes.
Molinari began the final round tied for the lead at 16-under with Benn Barham of England. Barham double-bogeyed the second hole Sunday and made three more bogeys en route to 75. The only challenges to Molinari were mounted by Swedes Anders Hansen and Jarmo Sandelin, who closed with 66 and 65, respectively, and tied for second. Sandelin went birdie-birdie-eagle beginning at the 10th, birdied the 15th but was derailed by a bogey at the 16th.
“I got a good break on the first hole (chipping in for eagle) and then I knew that I just had to keep hitting the ball and staying patient,” Molinari said. “I was quite nervous when I three-putted the 12th (for par) because I saw that Jarmo was 20 under as well, so it was very close then. At the next leaderboard on the 16th I saw that I had two shots and then three shots, so it was going well for me.”
Molinari said the support he got from the home crowd was “like being in a football stadium.”
“I have to thank all the people that were here,” he said. “I have never seen a crowd like this.”