Europe’s vice-captain Francesco Molinari reflects on his unhappiness since winning The Open, going down the rabbit hole, and why he’s got one eye on captaining Europe at the Ryder Cup in the future.
How do you reflect on your five years since winning The Open?
“I would say 2019 was still a pretty good year, but after that it’s been a bit of a struggle. At the time I couldn’t have foreseen what was coming, but that’s life, that’s golf. Yeah, it’s been a challenging time. Obviously, I’m still trying to work my way through it and find some form.”
A lot of people focus on what happened at the 2019 Masters, but is there more to it than that, because we know you also relocated to America with your family…
“That Masters was tough, but I don’t think the impact was as big as people made out. With moving, it was challenging at the time but you get settled pretty quickly.
It’s simply a case that I haven’t played good enough golf the last few years. I’ve lost my way a bit, with the long game especially. That makes everything way harder than when you’re hitting the ball well.”
How hard has it been to deal with those disappointments?
“It’s hard, but I’ve got a good team around me that tries to help me through it and find solutions. Unfortunately in golf, there’s no manual. There’s no easy way to figure out how to get back to your best. We’ve been trying and that’s all you can do.
Hopefully, we will get some good breaks in the coming months. Then it comes down to confidence.”
What changes have you implemented?
“I’ve gone through working with a few different guys. I’m back with Denis (Pugh) and I’m still using Jamie Mulligan over here (in America). They see things in a similar way. There’s a good dynamic.
I’ve tried a few things over the years without huge success. It’s just the consistency I’m lacking. It’s hard in golf because you don’t know where the end of the tunnel is. All you can do is work hard and hope for the best.”
Do you dive into the stats and use your brother’s StatisticGolf platform?
“Yeah, I use it, but that’s more of a diagnostic tool to tell you what’s not working. It doesn’t give you the solution on how to improve what you need to improve.”
Do you have any regrets?
“No, because the success I had in 2018 and 2019 was as a result of the same mindset. In hindsight, some decisions were maybe better back then than they were in the following years, but at the time you take the decisions you think are going to help you in that moment. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t work.”
How hard has it been to stay positive?
“I’ve been unhappy on the course, as you would be, but you need to accept the highs together with the lows. Up until probably around 2020, I was lucky in my career, in the sense that I was pretty consistent and didn’t really have any low points. So yeah, it’s been a challenge for me to work my way through it.”
Do you feel like you’re close to turning a corner?
“I don’t know. Turning a corner depends so much on the scores. I can stand here and say, “Yes, I’m playing a lot better”. But, until I start to get the scores on the course, it’s not really meaningful.”
Have you still got the drive?
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. That never went missing. I still love the game. I still love playing, whether it’s in a tournament or coming to hit balls to try and find the secret. Like I said, it’s just trying to get the results.”
On a positive note, how much did you enjoy captaining the winning team at the Hero Cup?
“That was a good week. It was fun for me to do something different. It wasn’t something I was thinking about until Luke (Donald) asked me. It’s an introduction to a different role in golf. It was a nice chance to meet some of the younger guys, and getting the win is always nice.”
It was a good audition for a future captaincy role at the Ryder Cup as well. Would that interest you?
“Yeah, I think it’s something everyone would like to have a go at. As I said, getting a taste of it at the Hero Cup was interesting. It was an eye-opener and I can only imagine how much work is required to do it for the Ryder Cup. But, yes, I would definitely be interested in it at some stage.”
About the author
Michael Catling is Today’s Golfer‘s Features Editor and an award-winning journalist who specializes in golf’s Majors and Tours, including DP World, PGA, LPGA, and LIV.
Michael joined Today’s Golfer in 2016 and has traveled the world to attend the game’s biggest events and secure exclusive interviews with dozens of Major champions, including Jack Nicklaus, Jordan Spieth, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Gary Player, and Justin Thomas.
A former member of Ufford Park and Burghley Park, Michael has been playing golf since he was 11 and currently plays off a handicap of 10.
Away from golf he’s a keen amateur chef and has his own healthy recipes website. He also loves playing squash, going to the gym, and following Chelsea FC.