Francesco Molinari is the newly-crowned Open Champion after a sensational performance at Carnoustie, but what lies behind the Italian’s steely, determined exterior. We take a look, and bring you 10 things you should know about the 35 year old…
1. He caddied for his brother at The Masters…
When Tiger Woods shook hands with his playing partner Edoardo Molinari before the opening round of the 2006 Masters, it’s safe to say he would never have imagined the Italian’s caddie would one day join him as a Major champion.
Edoardo, the reigning US Amateur champion at 25, had called upon his younger brother Francesco, 23, to help him on his bag and 12 years later history is made with Italy’s first Major champion. To complete the remarkable circle, Francesco was paired with Woods during the final round in Scotland.
2. He’s fluent in three languages…
Speaking three languages fluently can come in very useful when your job sees you travelling the world as a professional golfer, so it’s great for Francesco that he counts his native Italian, English and Spanish as three languages he’s mastered. His English is very good, as is the six-time European Tour winner’s Spanish, which again is very useful as Molinari’s caddie and manager are both Spanish.
Pello Iguarán, the veteran Spanish caddie who used to work with José María Olazabal has been praised by his player for helping keep him calm in tough situations, so it’s just as well they can converse properly. To cap off an amazing week for the pair Iguarán also became the first Spanish caddy to raise the Claret Jug. What a team.
3. He thought shooting 95 as a youngster was great…
After starting the game at the age of eight years old with his parents and older brother Edoardo in Turin, Francesco played in his first tournament shortly after. Full of excitement Francesco completed his first competitive 18 holes in 95 shots. As he left the 18th green his brother was there to greet him and find out how his younger sibling got on. “Great”, said Francesco. “I shot 95!” Both brothers thought it was a great score, and maybe it was considering how new they were to the game. We suspect neither of them have shot a score like that since. How things change.
4. He got nervous in his first Ryder Cup. Really, really nervous.
Not only does Francesco list playing in his first Ryder Cup in 2010 at Celtic Manor as the most nervous moment of his career, he also says it was the most nerve-wracking experience of his life. The Italian, who played alongside his brother in Wales in Colin Montgomerie’s victorious European team, didn’t seem too nervous when alongside his brother Edoardo they won their Saturday foursomes match.
Although The Open champ lost to Tiger Woods in the final day singles, nothing could detract from what was an amazing, if very nervy experience for Francesco. We’ll leave it to the man himself to tell a story which sums up the pre-game nerves…“I got so nervous at Celtic Manor Ryder Cup that I actually forgot to hit driver in my warm-up, which was the first and only time I’ve done that in my career.”
5. He loves to be on the winning side…
Francesco has represented Europe twice at The Ryder Cup in 2010 and 2012; twice being on the winning side. His half a point in the match against Tiger Woods at the “Miracle at Medinah” secured The Ryder Cup for Europe. He also won the 2009 World Cup at Mission Hills with his brother Edoardo representing Italy.
6. Italian legend in the making…
Some will now consider Francesco the best Italian golfer of all time. He has passed the legendary Constantino Rocca’s total of five European Tour wins – Francesco now has six – and is the first from his country to taste Major success.
7. The Italian lives in London…
Francesco has made England’s capital city London his home, where he lives with his wife Valentina and two children. Valentina used to travel to tournaments with her husband but since having children, she is no longer able to attend every event. Francesco practises at The Wisley in Surrey, however when he has time off with the family they like to make the most of their home city, often spending their spare time taking in the cultural sites of the city, which he sometimes shares on his Instagram page:
8. He’s a massive football fan – and has two teams…
Some people think it’s weird to support two teams but with Francesco spending a lot of time abroad we think he’s entitled to do just that. Plus he’s The Open Champion now so he can do whatever he pleases. Anyway, Francesco’s first love was Italian Serie A team Inter Milan, before he also fell for West Ham United, the English Premier League side who play in Molinari’s adopted hometown of London. We’ll leave it to the man himself to explain where the love affair with West Ham comes from.
“I’m a big Gianfranco Zola fan, so I got more into them when he became the manager at West Ham. And they also remind me of my Italian team, Inter Milan. Both teams were really good in the 1960s, but have not been doing so well recently.”
Both the Italian’s favourite teams were quick to recognise and congratulate the star on his famous Open win as well.
9. His favourite club is the driver…
“I hit the ball straight off the tee. I always have done. But I don’t really know why…”
Francesco is regarded as one of the most consistent drivers of the ball hitting around 70 per cent of fairways with his TaylorMade M4 driver. We had seen him using the M1 model up until the M4 was released at the start of the year.
“It depends on the course, but usually I try to focus on a really small target. In golf you need to make the margin of error as wide as you possibly can and the best way of doing this is to aim for a specific spot rather than a general area.”
10. He loves to snowboard…
Enough said really. Away from the golf course, Francesco loves snowboarding with family and friends.