WORLD OF GOLF: Francesco Molinari travels 300 miles to end his seven-month exile from tournament golf… while Sergio Garcia registers his first victory since the 2017 Masters
- Francesco Molinari ends his seven-month exile from tournament golf this week
- The Italian will head 300 miles across the Nevada desert to play in Las Vegas
- While Sergio Garcia registered his first victory on Sunday since the 2017 Masters
- The 40-year-old was ranked 193rd out of 194 on the greens on the PGA Tour
What on earth would possess a 37-year-old man to move with his wife and two school-age kids from London to Los Angeles at the height of a pandemic? Is this a mid-life drama or a full-blown crisis?
This week, Francesco Molinari will end his seven-month exile from tournament golf and begin to answer one of the great summer sporting mysteries. Instead of the easy journey to Wentworth for the BMW PGA Championship, the popular Italian will be motoring 300 miles across the Nevada desert to play in Las Vegas, as he begins a fresh start with what he hopes will prove a fresh mind.
So, what’s been eating Frankie? It’s two years ago almost to the day that passengers boarding the busy Eurostar to London from Gard du Nord stopped what they were doing and applauded Molinari’s arrival on the platform.
Francesco Molinari will end his seven-month exile from tournament golf this week in Las Vegas
On the previous afternoon in Paris, he had become the first European golfer in history to win five points out of five at a Ryder Cup.
It came at the end of a season in which he’d won the European Tour’s flagship tournament at Wentworth, achieved his first victory in America and become the Champion Golfer of the Year by beating Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy down the stretch at Carnoustie.
At the end of that year he cemented his London love affair by moving across town to a new home in St John’s Wood. Against that background, it’s a little difficult to understand the relocation to La La land at the height of a world in turmoil.
Two years ago Molinari become the Champion Golfer of the Year by beating Tiger Woods
Molinari also overcame Rory McIlroy down the stretch at Carnoustie to earn such a title
Somewhat predictably, the move has proven a logistical nightmare, and helps to explain why he is the last of the world’s top 70 golfers to return following the end of lockdown. He had hoped to return at the USPGA Championship in San Francisco in August but that major and one more came and went with him on the sidelines.
Inevitably, the speculation mounted. ‘I see a lot of questions, I didn’t hang up the bag,’ he posted on social media. ‘I took a break to manage a life change with my family.’
At the age of 38 next month, it’s a long way back. Up next month is the Masters, the scene of another life-changing event for the man from Turin. The last edition will always be remembered for Tiger’s victory, but it was a tournament in Molinari’s grasp during his all-conquering run.
When he fell apart on the back nine, the magic disappeared along with the green jacket. Since then, he hasn’t registered a single top 10 finish worldwide.
Quote of the week
‘This win is a huge relief and a life-changing moment for me. I made a huge sacrifice moving to America, leaving my comfort zone, my friends and my family and it’s paid off. I wanted to be a world-class athlete and to get the job done means everything.’ — MEL REID
Mel Reid (pictured) claims that her latest win was ‘huge relief’ and a ‘life-changing moment’
What a response from Britain’s leading women to the disappointment of not contending at the Open at Royal Troon in August. First, Georgia Hall, from Bournemouth, won in the US for the first time in her career and now Mel Reid, from Derby, has followed up with a heart-warming maiden American success of her own on Sunday. Next up for both is another major — the USPGA Championship starting on Thursday.
Garcia’s blind faith brings win at last
How do you putt well with your eyes closed? When you’re ranked 193rd out of 194 players on the greens on the PGA Tour, you’ll clearly try anything. The wonder is that, for Sergio Garcia, it actually worked to the extent he registered his first victory on Sunday since the 2017 Masters. Just in time, too, with the latest edition at Augusta now around the corner.
It brought to an end a torrid run of form for the 40-year-old Spaniard that had seen him fall outside the world’s top 50 for the first time in a decade. He won with a couple of trademark clutch shots down the stretch, one that set up an eagle and the other a birdie at the 18th.
When the winning putt dropped, he opened his eyes on a world that looked completely different. The all-time record Ryder Cup points scorer would not have made this year’s team, but he might yet make it next year. Clearly, if he’s got a putt for the trophy, it won’t be just the rest of us unable to watch.
Spaniard Sergio Garcia, 40, registered his first victory on Sunday since the 2017 Masters