Francesco Molinari is hoping the memories of two second-place finishes in the last two years can spur him onto victory in this week’s Portugal Masters.
Molinari ended the 2009 event two shots back from the champion, Lee Westwood, and narrowly missed out again by the same margin the following year, when Australian Richard Green stormed home to victory with a thrilling final day 65, and the Italian believes this could be his year.
“Two years in a row I have finished runner-up so I am hopeful of another good week here,” he said, adding, “So I’m hoping to maybe finish one better than the last few years and win it.”
Having come so close to winning the tournament in recent times, Molinari reserves a lot of praise for the Portugal Masters and the Oceânico Victoria course on which it is contested.
“I think it’s a very good event,” he said. “It’s very well organised for the players and the weather is usually very good and it’s a great golf course.
“It’s a course where you need to hit the ball straight because there is a lot of water off the tees and you need to be precise with the irons too, because it’s a golf course where you can make a lot of birdies but one where you can easily get in trouble as well.”
Molinari’s performance last year provides a case in point and showcases the superb scoring opportunities on offer at the Vilamoura course.
In the second round of last year’s event, the 2010 WGC-HSBC Champion posted a flawless ten under par 62 comprising a stunning ten birdies and no blemishes, yet went on to card a two over par 74 on the Saturday leaving himself way off the pace and tied for 54th going into Sunday’s final round.
Remarkably, though, Molinari found another 62 on the concluding day of the tournament, propelling him 52 places up the leaderboard to his final second place berth, and the Turin born man recognises that the course rewards solid all-round play.
He said: “I think if you get it going and you are confident you can go really low there. But at the same time it is not that easy to make par at some of the holes.
“It is just one of those golf courses that is really fair and whoever plays best wins at the end of the week.”
Molinari, who is currently 19th in The Race to Dubai, is pleased with the recent progress made in his game, having finished tied for sixth last week at the Bankia Madrid Masters, but still feels he has some way to go.
“I think I need a little more time to be really certain about the swing and about what I am doing on the course – especially under pressure,” he said. “There were a lot of good signs in Madrid so I just need to keep working on these things.”
And if Francesco can put everything together this week in Vilamoura, perhaps this is the year he can make it third time lucky and finally be crowned the Prince of Portugal.