Wednesday 21 August 2019

I feel like I haven't reached my limit yet, says Molinari

Italy's Francesco Molinari. Photo: Action Images via Reuters
Italy's Francesco Molinari. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

Brian Keogh

Francesco Molinari realised his childhood dream by winning The Open but he knows it's highly unlikely he'll be wearing shorts when he defends the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush this summer.

The R&A announced yesterday that it will allow players to wear shorts during practice rounds and a spokesman conceded that they might even relax the dress code on competition days "in the event of extreme weather and if conditions suggested it was appropriate."

Molinari is all for shorts but he's not banking on a summer heatwave on the Causeway Coast, where the only thing he's guaranteed from July 18-21 is a sellout crowd after the R&A announced yesterday it was putting an extra 17,000 tickets on sale for the four championship rounds - 3,750 per day.

"There's people playing golf in shorts all around the world, so I don't see why we should be different," Molinari said in a teleconference with reporters at Royal Portrush.

He knows from bitter experience that the weather can be notoriously unpredictable after playing alongside Darren Clarke in the rain-lashed Irish Open at Royal Portrush in 2012 but he's looking forward to getting back there.

"I remember the weather was not great for four days and it was a very challenging course with the wind and the rain," he said of 2012 when he finished tied for tenth at Portrush with the likes of Rory McIlroy. "The weather is going to play a huge part."

Tickets

The increased ticket allocation will see the attendance jump from 40,000 to 43,750 per day as The Open returns to the island of Ireland for the first time in 68 years. That means 175,000 will see the Championship proper and fans can still apply for those tickets, as well as tickets for practice days, which will bring the total attendance over 215,000.

The R&A has also announced that it will suspend its no re-admission policy on practice days only, so fans can come and go as they please.Molinari, who is one of the in-form players set for next week's Masters, has yet to decide how to best prepare for The Open but he hasn't definitively ruled out the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahich.

"Probably six weeks before (The Open] I will make a call on what the best way to approach it is, seeing how I'm playing, seeing how the energies are and all of that," he said.

"I think I'm at a stage where I've achieved my dreams and whatever comes now is going to be a bonus," he said. "I still have a lot of desire and I want to win more. I got a taste of it last year and it was great.

"The dream is to keep improving. I feel like I haven't reached my limit yet. So, the dream is to see how far I can go and hopefully get as many wins as possible along the way."

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