Tuesday, 07 August 2018
Francesco Molinari  (Getty Images)
Francesco Molinari (Getty Images)

Francesco Molinari's life may have changed since he won the Open Championship last month but the Italian insists his outlook has not as he looks to make it back-to-back Majors at the US PGA Championship.

The 35 year old lifted the Claret Jug at Carnoustie Golf Links as part of a golden summer that has also seen him win a first Rolex Series title at the BMW PGA Championship and claim a victory on the US PGA Tour.

Molinari also finished second on home soil at the Italian Open and has shot to the top of the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex and sixth in the Official World Golf Ranking.

He finished second at this event last season and has never missed a cut at the US PGA Championship, and he insists he will just continue to do what he has always done at Bellerive Country Club.

"I don't think the mindset is any different," he said. "I know how hard I worked to win at Carnoustie and it's not going to get any easier just because you've won once. If anything, it will be probably harder because there's less time to prepare and more pressure and more expectations.

"So the mindset is the same, try to make the most of all the hours of preparation I can have in the next couple of days and then just do my thing, go through the process like I did at Carnoustie, like I did at the US Open at Shinnecock Hills, even without winning.

"I think the main thing for me is not being obsessed by results and just being obsessed by what I can control and let the results be just the end product of that.

"It's been definitely until two weeks ago the best Major for me. I had my first top ten in a Major at Hazeltine in 2009. I like the country club layouts typical of the US PGA, I think it puts emphasis on ball striking.

"Usually it's been on courses where I've putted well as well. Last year was the closest I had been to being in contention in a Major so it was a great feeling. I'm looking forward to another good week this week, hopefully."

With four European Tour wins - including a World Golf Championships - and two winning Ryder Cup appearances before this season, Molinari has always been an elite performer on the world stage, although the last two months have taken him to another level.

I know how hard I worked to win at Carnoustie and it's not going to get any easier just because you've won once - Francesco Molinari

The two-time Italian Open champion puts most of his achievements down to hard work and practice but he admits a new found confidence against the world's best has also played its part.

"I think that the biggest thing for me was mentally to step it up a level and being able to play my best golf week-in and week-out and, even on the days where maybe the game was a little off, to make up for it with the short game and the putting," he said.

"I definitely feel more comfortable playing with anyone now compared to a few years ago, I think just because I feel I'm a more complete player.

"I hit it a little bit longer, even though I'm not one of the big hitters, I don't feel there's as much difference as there was before. My chipping has improved a lot, my putting has improved a lot, my iron game, fortunately, has stayed the same or improved even a little bit. So it's just a matter of confidence.

"I think for me the confidence comes from the work I've done in the last two, three years, recording a lot of the practices I do and seeing in the numbers that I'm getting better and better and better. So no matter what my personality thinks or my way of thinking wants me to think, I can see in the numbers that I'm getting better and better."

Bellerive has been tipped by many to be a big-hitters course this week, with heavy rain softening up the St Louis lay-out in recent days, but Molinari is confident his all-round game can see him compete.

"I think if I can play my A-game, if I can play as good as I want to, I can compete on most golf courses," he said.

"Obviously, big hitters will have an advantage but that was true at Carnoustie with the bunker positioning and many other things.

"So I think in general, Major Championships are a test of every part of your game and what we were saying about my results at past US PGAs, the set-up, I think it's been pretty consistent and my results have been pretty consistent. So hopefully I can be in contention on Sunday."

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