Thursday, 12 July 2012
Francesco Molinari  (Getty Images)
Francesco Molinari (Getty Images)
Francesco Molinari spared a thought for his brother Edoardo after a truly dazzling start to his bid for a notable family double in Inverness.

The 29 year old leads the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open after a ten birdie course record 62 at Castle Stuart Golf Links against a field that included World Number One Luke Donald and ten Major Champions.

Edoardo won the title at Loch Lomond two years ago, three months before he and Francesco became partners in The Ryder Cup.

But the older of the pair had left wrist surgery two weeks ago and, having not played for a month, is likely to spend the entire summer rehabilitating.

"It would be nice to do well this week for him as well - to cheer him up a little bit," said Francesco, who looks in the form of his life after finishing second in the Alstom Open de France on Sunday thanks to a closing 64.

If he wins this weekend it would be only the second time in European Tour history that brothers have won the same event. Spaniards German and Antonio Garrido were Madrid Open champions in 1973 and 1977, respectively.

At ten under after 15 holes, Molinari - on course to earn a second cap against the Americans in September - admits he did work out that three more birdies would give him the circuit's first-ever 59.

It did not happen - he parred them all - but he can still claim to have broken 60 for 18 holes. In Paris he played his last nine in 29 and here he turned in 30.

The 62 matched the lowest round of his European Tour career and was a far cry from his first experience of links golf.

That came in an amateur event at St Andrews over a decade ago. Anybody seeing him give a fist-pump of celebration when he birdied the last would have thought he had had a good day - but it was to break 90.

Not that he was the only one to suffer that day. One of his partners had "ten or 11" attempts to get out of a bunker on the short eighth, gave up and walked in.

Molinari is now a Ryder Cup and Omega Mission Hills World Cup winner, also has a World Golf Championships victory to his name, and will see his odds for next week's Open Championship cut even more if he goes on like this.

"I know it's not going to last forever," he added, "but I hope to keep this going a little bit longer - obviously next week, but the next month or so is really big for The Ryder Cup.

"That, probably more than The Open, is in my mind."

Two behind is Spaniard Alejandro Cañizares, who birdied his last six holes to match Molinari’s 29 strokes on the front nine.

Dane Søren Kjeldsen and France’s Raphaël Jacquelin lie one further back on seven under, while defending champion Donald began well with a five under par 67.

Phil Mickelson, who missed out on a trip to the Vatican to play, might need some help from above to win it after an opening 73 left him 11 behind Molinari.

Not that the three-time Masters Tournament champion is waiting for divine intervention.

"I think everybody is looked on equally and you have to make your own destiny," said Mickelson, who left his family in Italy because he felt the need to play more before going to Royal Lytham for next week's Open Championship.

The 42 year old, joint runner-up behind Darren Clarke at Sandwich last summer, began well enough with two birdies in his first three holes.

But his problems of late resurfaced with three bogeys and also a seven at the long 12th.

At one over, the same as playing partner Paul Lawrie, Mickelson is well outside the top 100 going into the second round.

Only the top 65 and ties make it through the 36-hole cut.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1SINGH, Jeev MilkhaIND18-17
2MOLINARI, FrancescoITA18-17
T3NOREN, AlexanderSWE18-16
T3WARREN, MarcSCO18-16
T5BALDWIN, MatthewENG18-15
T5LEVET, ThomasFRA18-15
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