Edoardo Molinari heads to the shores of Lake Geneva this week with a swagger in his step, having regained top spot on the European Challenge Tour Rankings earlier this month. And that is where the Italian aims to be on October 31 at the end of the 2009 season.
The 28 year old from Turin, who overhauled England’s Andrew Butterfield after the Scottish Hydro Challenge, now tackles the longest running event on the Challenge Tour, the Trophée du Golf de Genève, with renewed vigour.
“I want to be Number One at the end of the season,” declared Molinari, who graduated from the Challenge Tour in 2007 but lost his card after an educational first season on The European Tour in 2008.
Giuseppe Cali (1990) and Michele Reale (1997) were the last Italians to triumph in the Rankings and Molinari said: “Obviously I would like to finish on top as it is something to be proud of when you look back on your achievements.
“I was pleased to overtake Andrew at the top of the Rankings a few weeks ago and now I am focussed on staying there. This week is a small field but with big money and I feel that two or three more high finishes can help me consolidate my position.”
Molinari, who closed with a 69 to finish tied 26th in last week’s SK Golf Challenge in Finland, added: “This event, the Kazakhstan Open and the Grand Final can play a massive part on who finishes Number One and I need to be on top of my game, starting with this week in Geneva.”
Two years ago Molinari was a long way from prime form as he shot rounds of 81-69-72 to finish outside the leading 18 players from the 36-strong field who make the cut on Saturday night in this Pro-Am format.
“I have to admit that I didn’t play well at all, but that was no fault of the golf course or conditions. I just had a tough week, which was a pity since the venue is one of the best of the year. The course isn’t long but it is a good design and always beautifully conditioned.”
At 6,727 yards (6,289 metres), the parkland Golf Club de Genève just a few kilometres from the famous lake is certainly not the longest on Tour, but poses some difficult challenges. The course record stands at 62, established in 2003 by Martin Erlandsson of Sweden and emulated by his countryman, Alex Noren, in 2006.
If Molinari achieves his objectives between now and the end of the season, he believes he is now better place to settle into European Tour life alongside younger brother, Francesco, who is making his debut in the US PGA Championship this week.
“Last year I went into the season full of great expectations, but things didn’t work out as planned,” added Molinari. “First time on Tour is always difficult, I think, and you need time to adjust to the competition and the courses. The experience definitely helped me as a player and I am looking forward to playing a full season in 2010. I feel I will be ready this time!”
With the leading 32 players on the Rankings all jockeying for position this week - including Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium, who seeks a quick-fire double after winning last week's Sk Golf Challenge - the Trophée du Golf de Genève, which also features four invites, promises to deliver a tremendous tournament in its 21st year at the same tree-lined venue.
Butterfield, who missed the cut in the SK Golf Challenge last week, will be keen to deprive Molinari of that Number One position, while Englishmen, Robert Coles and Richard McEvoy – ranked third and sixth respectively - have similar objectives following strong displays at Linna Golf in Finland.