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Friday, 12 April 2019
Francesco Molinari  (Getty Images)
Francesco Molinari (Getty Images)

Francesco Molinari has made many huge strides in the last 12 months and in round two of the Masters Tournament he showed that he may have at last conquered Augusta National Golf Club.

Since a closing 70 handed him a top 20 finish 12 months ago, the Italian has become a Major Champion at The Open, won the Race to Dubai, claimed a Rolex Series victory at the BMW PGA Championship, secured five points out of five at The Ryder Cup and won his first two events on American soil on the US PGA Tour.

Augusta has always presented a unique challenge for the world's best, however, and coming into Friday's round, Molinari had only previously carded one sub-70 round at the end of Magnolia Lane - an opening 69 in 2012 - in 25 attempts.

He beat that by two as he was bogey free on day two, moving to seven under and putting himself in an excellent position to claim the Green Jacket come Sunday night.

"Probably on Monday I started to feel comfortable around the course," he said.

"I was talking to Phil Kenyon, my putting coach, after the round yesterday he told me after the first round last year, I lost something like four and a half shots on the greens.

"Last year I started working with him, I think a month before Augusta, and we didn't have enough time to do enough of what was needed to show up here and be competitive.

"I think that's what's making the difference so far, that on the greens and around the greens I feel more comfortable. There's still shots that are going to make you feel uncomfortable at times but I definitely feel I have a lot more control of my pace on the greens and in general with the chipping, the trajectory, the spin.

There's obviously loads of great players in golf right now and I think I'm getting the attention that I deserve - Francesco Molinari

"I just feel better. I think that feeds into the long game as well, knowing that I can hit the irons without being completely terrified of missing a green in the wrong spot."

He added: "There's obviously loads of great players in golf right now and I think I'm getting the attention that I deserve and it's not something that I seek or that I want desperately. So I'm happy to go about my business and keep playing good golf. That's what I'm trying to focus on."

A stunning approach to four feet brought a birdie on the third and he made the most of the par five eighth with a lovely chip before a 14 footer on the next had him within one of the lead.

He holed from 25 feet on the 12th to share the lead and a chip to two feet on the 15th set up another birdie, with two putts from 75 feet on the last keeping him at seven under.

"It was a very good day for me," he said. "I started playing well from the beginning, made a couple of nice putts towards the end of the back nine. I didn't really get in trouble at any point, just played solid.

"I'm really happy with the way I played and the way we managed the strategy with my caddie. Still a long, long way to go, so let's see what we'll be able to do on the weekend."

 

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