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Wednesday, 01 September 2010
Edoardo Molinari   (Getty Images)
Edoardo Molinari (Getty Images)

European golf’s man of the moment, Edoardo Molinari, will try to follow his Ryder Cup call up this week by winning the Omega European Masters and becoming the first player to win three times this season.

However, unlike at the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond and in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, he will not have his brother, Francesco, as a playing partner.

The younger of the first siblings to make the same Ryder Cup team since Bernard and Geoff Hunt in 1963 is having the week off before returning at the KLM Open in Holland next Thursday.

But wild card Edoardo is at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland and considers last year's tournament as the start of his amazing burst into Colin Montgomerie's side.

“I was lucky enough to get an invite,” he recalls. “I was leading the Challenge Tour by a little bit, but had not played a European Tour event for three or four months.

“I had a decent week, coming 14th, and that was big for the confidence because I didn't know where I was compared to the guys on The European Tour.
 
“It wasn't a great finish, but I knew this year that I could play well, although I didn't imagine I could make the squad for The Ryder Cup.

“Obviously it's been a great 12 months and hopefully I’ll keep improving.”

When he turns up for The Ryder Cup, he could be boosted by the presence Costantino Rocca, who is hoping to get to Celtic Manor to lend his support.

“I received a lot of messages,” said Molinari. “A good one was from Costantino Rocca - he sent me a text then he called me and was very kind and emotional as well.

“It was very nice of him. It's been a long time since he played The Ryder Cup and I think he is trying to get to Celtic Manor to add his support, to be there and to watch and have some fun.”

Molinari, who began 2009 at 653rd in the world, was 166th this time last year before climbing into the top 100 a month later.

He is 15th, which makes him the highest ranked player in this week's field, ahead of Louis Oosthuizen, winner of this year’s Open Championship.

That will guarantee Molinari a star group in the first two rounds wherever he plays on the circuit - and on this occasion he finds himself paired with Australian great Greg Norman.

This is the 55-year-old's first appearance since a shoulder operation last September, which he originally hoped would keep him out of action for only two months.

It is only two years ago that Norman led The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale with only nine holes to go.

Oosthuizen, meanwhile, partners Spain's Miguel Angel Jiménez, the only other member of Europe's team taking part.

The 46 year old felt he had to add Gleneagles to his schedule for fear of losing his Ryder Cup spot.

As things turned out, he could have attended his nephew's wedding instead, but finishing joint third was another boost to his confidence in the countdown to his fourth cap against the Americans.

Jimenez, who is also going for his third win of the year, competes in the Swiss Alps for the 22nd successive time and said: “I never miss that tournament.”

Alexander Noren, who won the competition last year, is delighted to be back at the scene of his greatest triumph.

“It feels good being back here, getting all the vibes again from winning last year,” he said.

“It felt weird yesterday walking up the 18th with nobody there compared to last year with all the crowds and the champagne on the green. That was the happiest time of my life, so far.

“I feel better now than I have all season - I feel like my swing is in better shape and my mental state is better so my expectations this week are very high.”

 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1JIMÉNEZ, Miguel AngelESP18-21
2MOLINARI, EdoardoITA18-18
3MANASSERO, MatteoITA18-16
4NOH, Seung-yulKOR18-13
T5DERKSEN, Robert-JanNED18-12
T5SCHWARTZEL, CharlRSA18-12
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