Francesco Molinari (Getty Images)
Francesco Molinari has plenty of fond memories of The Gleneagles Hotel, but he hopes to create the best of them this weekend at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
The Italian recalled a family holiday to Scotland as a teenager that saw him play two rounds at Gleneagles with brother Edoardo, and it was the scene of his first top ten finish on The European Tour back in 2005.
He has gone on to amass four top tens in seven appearances at the Perthshire venue, including a tie for third in 2010 when Edoardo won to earn a wildcard selection for that year’s Ryder Cup alongside his sibling.
“I always enjoy coming back here,” said Francesco Molinari, fresh from a top-ten finish at The Open Championship.
“We came on holiday a couple of times with Edoardo and my parents when we were younger, so it's always nice to be back here, it feels almost like home; I'm looking forward to the week.
“We stayed here I think a couple of days at least, because we played the Kings one day and we played the Centenary Course the other day, and it was just our family and another family and friends.
“We just went around Scotland playing golf, and obviously played here, so it feels a bit more familiar when you've gone to a place not during the tournament week.
“It was a great trip all over Scotland. I remember we played Turnberry and it was amazing - it was good to play so many good courses with Edoardo and the other kid, just having a game every day, and obviously playing here, we had a lot of fun.
“It suits my eye. I think it's usually quite windy here and I enjoy the challenge of playing in the wind.
“Having played well in the past just builds your confidence, so every time I get back here, I know it's a place where I can do well and I look forward to being out on the course.”
Molinari hopes that his next visit to Gleneagles will be as part of Paul McGinley’s Ryder Cup Team in 2014, and he believes his impressive record at the venue could help Europe retain the trophy he has played a role in winning in 2010 and 2012.
“Obviously I wish to be here and I hope to be here next year,” he added. “It's going to be special playing The Ryder Cup at the home nation of golf - I'm sure the crowds will be fantastic.
“I managed to qualify automatically the last two times, so I'm hoping and I'm planning to do the same, and then we'll see. If things don't go according to the plan, we'll see next year who the Captain picks, but it's nice to know that I have a good record on this track.”