Molinaris build on family ties
NEWPORT, Wales – It was not the way to start an inaugural Ryder Cup week, losing to Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, but the Molinari brothers seemed little fazed by the loss to their playing competitors in a practice round Tuesday at Celtic Manor.
That’s to be expected of Italian siblings Edoardo and Francesco, who were in the discussion at the beginning of the year to make the European Ryder Cup team.
Their place on Colin Montgomerie’s squad that will face the United States beginning Friday at the Twenty Ten Course was made even more remarkable by this fact: Two of the four majors were won by Europeans in 2010 and Paul Casey, at No. 7 in the world, and Justin Rose, with two PGA Tour victories, had great seasons. Instead, Casey and Rose will watch from America and the Molinaris will battle to regain the Ryder Cup.
“But it’s only Tuesday,” Edoardo Molinari said of the loss to his playing partners. “I’ll take that other win in China and lose today.’’
“That other win in China’’ was the 2009 World Cup, when the brothers from Turin made a global name for themselves by winning a first major golf team event for Italy.
The win also was a precursor to a year than neither could have predicted. At the beginning of 2010, Francesco Molinari was 38th in the world and advanced to 32nd, ahead of Rickie Fowler, Stewart Cink and Adam Scott.
Edoardo, the older of the brothers, would win twice on the European Tour and move dramatically up the world rankings, from 48th to 15th, and is the sixth-highest-ranked European on the team.
“Well, there’s obviously advantages,” Montgomerie said of having brothers on the team. “You can write that till the cows come home about the advantages of brothers and how they think and are wrapped together and how they play golf together so often in their lives.”
The sibling rivalry that developed when the Molinaris were 10 and 11 was friendly, they say, but helped them focus on learning from each other and getting better.
That trait, said Edoardo, is why the two are here this week.
“I think it’s done very good for us,” Edoardo Molinari said of the rivalry. “Because when you see your brother playing better, you want to improve and you want to catch him.”
When Edoardo won the 2005 U.S. Amateur, he was invited to play in the Masters, asking his brother Francesco to caddie for him. The whole time that Francesco was on the bag, he was holding a club in his hand, taking swings at an imaginary ball, just getting the feeling of playing at Augusta National.
Though rivals between the ropes, the two are different off the course, residing in different places: Edoardo in London and Francesco still in Turin.
Edoardo is long off the tee and a little wayward, while Francesco is more controlled and hits more fairways and has the better short game.
One likes to sleep late and the other rises early. And though therer are other differences, the pairing of the two has few if any negatives and offers tremendous amount of confidence.
“It’s weird to say, but it feels quite normal to be here together,” Francesco said Tuesday. “We had a steady improvement during our careers, and we got here step-by-step, and it feels obviously great. I almost expected my brother to be here, and I guess it was the same for him.”