Francesco Molinari admitted that day two at Kiawah Island presented him with “one of the toughest” tests of golf in his life as strong winds made the Italian’s 75 feel more like a 70.
Starting the day two under for the tournament after a solid opening offering of 70 on a calmer Thursday at the 94th US PGA Championship in South Carolina, Molinari – beginning on the tenth – made an opening bogey after a wayward drive on his first hole, a tee shot that did in fact represent his only missed fairway of the second round, a not inconsiderable achievement considering the winds gusting up to 30 miles per hour across Pete Dye’s renowned Ocean Course.
With the first four holes of the back nine playing very strong into the wind, the Turin man made a double bogey at the 13th following a penalty drop, but after that Molinari was satisfied with his play on a difficult day, as a front nine of 38 was followed by a 37 coming home resulting in a round of 75 that also included four birdies.
“That was one of the toughest rounds of golf I've ever played,” said a windswept Molinari. “Plus three feels more like a couple under par!
“The conditions are obviously very, very tough – much tougher than yesterday. It was blowing very hard already when we got here this morning and I had a poor start but starting out the first four holes are really tough into the wind.
“I played well after that. It was obviously really hard to hit greens and hit fairways but I managed to make a few birdies, so quite happy with the round.”
Molinari’s determined 75 left him tied for 36th place as the afternoon starters got going, but the three-time European Tour Champion was acutely aware that his hard graft could see him surge up the leaderboard as further high rounds were posted by Thursday’s later groups.
“If it keeps blowing like this, I think it's going to look better at the end of the day. As I said, I shot two under yesterday and three over today but it seems like a similar score to be honest with you.
“After two rounds, being one over, close to par, is pretty good. If these conditions continue the scores are going to go only one way. It's good to be in the clubhouse one over. It's obviously not going to be leading but it's going to be a decent position.”
And that turned out to be a well-placed premonition, as Molinari ended the day tied for 15th place, just five shots off the lead heading into the weekend.
The majority of the ten players currently in the automatic qualification spots for The 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah were brought together on the eve of this week’s tournament by European Captain José María Olazábal for an inaugural sit-down.
Molinari, who featured prominently in The 2010 Ryder Cup triumph at Celtic Manor, currently has a comfortable cushion in fifth place on the European Points List and the 29 year old said he was feeling moderately relaxed with just two weeks after this one left to cement a place in the side that will take on the USA in 49 days.
“It was just a big meeting with the other guys that are on the team at the moment; we got to sit down together for a few minutes and had a bit of a chat. It was nothing too much but it was nice of him to get all the guys together and start to get in the atmosphere a little bit.
“Two years ago it was harder for me because I was just on the edge of making the team. But this year, even though I'm not completely sure if I'm making it, I am in a little bit more comfortable position so I can focus more on this tournament. I haven't been thinking about it too much.”