Winner of the 2018 Open Championship and Champion Golfer of the Year,
Francesco Molinari spent a moment with Golfers&Co. Grazie!
Can you sum up how you’re feeling right now.
Just disbelief. It’s amazing to hold the Claret Jug. To go the weekend bogey free, it’s unthinkable. But when I came here, I felt I was ready for the challenge. Leaving the 72nd hole, leading by two with a couple of serious contenders on my neck, then only Xander Schaufele playing the last two holes, I decided not to follow the game and walked instead to the putting green. I would have felt sick watching on TV. It’s incredible. For someone like me coming from Italy, not really a major golfing country, it’s been an incredible journey.
How significant it is being the first Italian to win a Major?
Hopefully, there were a lot of kids glued to a TV screen today, like I was watching my friend Tino Rocca in ’95 coming so close to win it at St Andrews. Hopefully, they will get as inspired as I was at 13 years old, watching him vie for the Claret Jug.
You were up and down on 13. Was it the key moment?
Yes, 12 and 13 were two really big par putts. Obviously, dropping shots there would have made it a lot harder. So it was a big moment to hole those putts, and then flush the drive on the 14th fairway turning the hole into a par 4.
He was great. There’s a lot more people around when you’re grouped with him than most of the guys. I knew what was coming and I was ready for it.
After your win at Wentworth (BMW PGA) and at the Quickens, you were my favourite No 1, but the majority of the media still voting for Tiger’s 15th Major or Rory’s comeback.
Me too like lots of people. In my group, the attention wasn’t really on me. It’s been the same the whole of my career. It doesn’t matter. I care about the people around me. They know how much we’ve all worked to get here.
You’ve mentionned the inspiration your win will hopefully give Italian golf. It must include Edoardo, your brother, and bring him back to golf’s sunny side.
Sure, I would love seeing him back to the winners’ circle where he belongs and was a few years ago. Golf is a tough beast. Some bad injuries, two hand surgeries, and you become a sidebar. But he’ll be back. His a far better talent. I wish him all the best. This win will motivate him even more to achieve some great things in the future and his US Amateur is a solid credential to prove it.
What was your mindse at 2:45 pm, your tee time, and all the way around the windy course?
I felt ready for it although everything was there to make me feel nervous, but I focused on hitting good shots and playing smart golf. I knew the front nine would play mostly into the wind, so pars were great. Saving the par on #6 was massive. And then coming back, I knew I would get a couple more chances downwind.
We saw big names struggling today. How tough is Carnoustie, and what does it take to beat this beast?
This beast is one of the reasons why I didn’t play the Dunhill Links recently. I got beaten here a few times in the past and didn’t love it. It’s a tough course, very tough. There’s no way around it. You can’t really hide. It’s impressive.
At what point did you think victory was possible today?
When I got here on Monday, I saw the course was firm and fast. The rough wasn’t too bad. I liked the way the course was setup, although still a beast. Like others, I didn’t feel too relaxed on that 1st tee at Carnoustie. And not at all when Xander missed his par putt on # 17.
How ruthless have you had to be because a lot of people were hoping for a Tiger Woods fairy tale today?
I don’t think it’s about being ruthless. It’s golf. It’s sports. We’re competing against each other, against all the pack as well. He had it going on the front nine, and took the lead. Then, unfortunately, he hit a couple of loose shots on the back nine. Missed shots around Carnoustie can drive to a disaster and a drama..
I suppose Tino Rocca is up to a big celebration party at his Golf Club Bergamo.
Will Crans-Montana see you in September and celebrate again?
I’m afraid not at this time.…