Sport Golf

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Open champion Molinari believes he can back up Major breakthrough

Open champion Franesco Molinari
Open champion Franesco Molinari

Brian Keogh in St Louis

Francesco Molinari believes he can still follow in the footsteps of Rory McIlroy and Pádraig Harrington and win back-to-back Majors in St Louis.

The Open champion would become the sixth player to claim the Claret Jug and the Wanamaker Trophy in the same season with a red-hot weekend.

While he had to watch US Open champion Brooks Koepka become the 15th player in PGA Championship history to shoot a 63, Molinari believes he's very much in the mix after he added a 67 to his opening 68 to get to five-under par.

"So far, so good," said Molinari, who was seven behind the leaders at halfway at Carnoustie before coming back to win with weekend rounds of 65 and 69.

"The first two days of Carnoustie was good, but there was room for improvement.

"Got back on the weekend. I feel very similar. Hopefully, the weekend will be similar as well.

"I'm probably going to work a little bit on the tee shots to try and hit a couple of more fairways tomorrow. I didn't birdie the par-fives today. That wasn't very good. You know, there's stuff to do on the weekend."

Molinari began his day by chipping in for a birdie at the 10th, then birdied the 12th from nine feet and the 14th from seven before following a three-putt bogey at the 18th with another birdie from nine feet at the first.

He bogeyed the fifth after taking three to get down from the fringe, but he bounced back by hitting a wedge to 18 inches at the seventh and then got up and down from a tricky spot behind the ninth to save par."

Molinari tied for second behind Justin Thomas at Quail Hollow last year but he's hungry to add to his Major haul and reckons his post-Carnoustie fatigue is now behind him.

He said: "Last week I was still quite tired.

"This week seems to be better. I've got time to recover this afternoon. I should be fine for the weekend."

He knows he has to find his putting touch and expected a message from putting coach Phil Kenyon after an average performance with the blade yesterday.

"I've been working on it constantly for the last three years," he said. "And I'm sure I'll get a text as soon as I turn on the phone, and there will be something to work on for tomorrow."

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, a trip to Old Trafford to watch Man United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, tickets to Ireland's home games in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport