Different in temperament Molinaris quite a team

By Associated PressSeptember 29, 2010, 12:25 am

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Francesco is the quiet one. Edoardo tends to be a little more boisterous.

Francesco is a ball-striking machine. Edoardo prefers to scramble his way around the course with the wedge and the putter.

Together, the Molinari brothers perfectly mesh.

While there’s still plenty of intrigue surrounding the Ryder Cup, this much is certain: The Italian duo will surely be paired for the Europeans when play begins Friday at Celtic Manor.

“Maybe it’s weird to say, but it feels quite normal to be here together,” Francesco said Tuesday after a practice round – where, of course, he was joined by Edoardo. “I almost expected my brother to be here, and I guess it was the same for him.”

They have an impressive record as teammates, knocking off the favored Irish squad of Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy at last year’s World Cup.

But there’s plenty of sibling rivalry between the Molinaris.

“It’s been very good for us, because when you see your brother playing better, you want to improve and you want to catch him,” Edoardo said. “I think that’s one of the reasons we’re here this week, both of us.

They’ve certainly taken different paths to Wales, and we’re not just talking about where they live (Edoardo still resides in their hometown of Turin; Francesco has moved to London) or their conflicting Italian soccer loyalties (Edoardo cheers for the local favorites, Juventus; Francesco prefers Inter Milan).

At 27, Francesco is the younger one by nearly two years, yet he turned pro first, launching a career that has been steady and persistent. In 2006, he became the first home winner of the Italian Open in 26 years. By 2009, he had cracked the top 50 in the world rankings. This year, he claimed one of nine automatic spots on the Ryder Cup team.

Edoardo burst on the scene in 2005 by becoming the first player from the European continent to win the U.S. Amateur. That earned him a spot in the Masters, where he played with his little brother on the bag.

Then came a wrist injury. Edoardo’s world ranking plunged into the 700s and he was demoted to the European Tour’s second division in 2009. After a swing change, he won three times on the Challenge Tour (including the Kazakhstan Open). Before the year was done, he had captured a prestigious event in Japan and paired with his brother to give Italy its first world team championship.

Still, it looked as though Francesco would be the only Molinari to make the Ryder Cup team. European captain Colin Montgomerie had a wealth of players for his three wild-card picks, including Top 10-ranked Paul Casey and Justin Rose, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this year.

Edoardo would not be denied, especially knowing his little brother already had made the team.

“Obviously, when you are behind and you want to catch up, you have to do something,” he said. “It’s something that you really want to be. You want to be better than your brother.”

At the final event before Monty filled out his squad, Molinari birdied the last three holes to win the Johnny Walker Championship by a single stroke. The captain gushed that he had “not seen a finish of that quality by anyone in such a pressure situation” in his 24 years on the European Tour. Edoardo, he added, was just “the type of player we need to regain this Ryder Cup.”

Casey and Rose were passed over. A second Molinari joined the team.

Together again, brothers in clubs.

“It’s not easy when you play with your brother, because in some ways you obviously want to beat him,” Francesco said. “It’s a bit of a conflict.”

The Molinaris are the first set of Ryder Cup brothers since Bernard and Geoff Hunt competed in 1963 for the British team, a precursor to the European squad.

The only other siblings to play together were the Whitcombes – Charles and Ernest were members of the British team in 1929 and ’31, and they were joined by a third brother, Reg, on the ’35 squad.

Up to now, though, Charles and Ernest are the only brothers to be paired together. They teamed up for a foursomes match in 1935 – and won.

Montgomerie is clearly looking for more than one point out of the brothers.

“It’s obvious that you might see the Molinaris playing together,” the captain said shortly after arriving in Wales. “I don’t think that would shock anybody, so I might as well tell you right now.”

Golf is an individual game at heart, so the Molinaris often appear to be doing their own thing even when they’re playing together. Yet there’s an unspoken bond, a sense of partnership that may be acknowledged with nothing more than a subtle nod or a quick glance.

“We are usually, both of us, quite calm and cool under pressure, so there’s not really much we do with each other or we say to each other,” Edoardo said. “But obviously, in case you get a little bit too tense or too nervous, you know that your brother is always there to try and help you. It’s always a great help to be playing alongside him.”

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After Further Review: Nelson lost in the shuffle?

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 3:40 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the Nelson's future ...

If the goal was “different” by bringing the AT&T Byron Nelson to Trinity Forest, consider it achieved. But bringing a world-class field south of Dallas could still be tricky.

Yes, the tournament can always rely on local resident and AT&T spokesman Jordan Spieth to throw his hat in the ring. But even with Spieth strolling the fairways this week, the field strength was among the worst all season for a full-point event.

The debut of the sprawling, links-like layout likely did little to sway the undecideds, with only the third round offering the challenging conditions that course co-designer Ben Crenshaw had envisioned. And the schedule won’t do them any favors next year, as a revamped itinerary likely puts the Nelson right before the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.

The course will inevitably get better with age, and Spieth expects positive word of mouth to spread. But it might be a while before the stars truly align for an event that, for the moment, feels lost in the shuffle of a hectic schedule. – Will Gray

On Jordan Spieth's putting ...

Jordan Spieth’s putting is plainly bad right now, but it isn’t going to stay this bad forever.

He is the second ranked player on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green, just like he was last year. This putting slump has lingered, but it’s unfathomable to think this guy just forgot how to putt.

Sooner rather than later he’s going to remember he’s Jordan Spieth and the 40-footers are going to start pouring in. He’ll be telling Greller to go get the ball because he’s too far away and the tee is in the other direction.

Bottom line, the ball striking is for real and the putting slump will pass. He’ll win soon – maybe even as soon as this week. – Nick Menta

On golf and gambling ...

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court over tuned a federal ban on sports betting in most states, a move the PGA Tour and many professional sports leagues embraced as a tool to both build fan interest and grow revenue.

Experts estimate sports betting could become a $150-$200 billion annual industry, and even a small piece of that could be significant for golf, but there will be risks.

Unlike any other sport, golf is played on multiple fields simultaneously, which inherently creates risks when gambling is introduced to the equation. Although the Tour has gone to great pains to head off any potential problems, like all bets gambling comes with great rewards, and great risks. – Rex Hoggard

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Wise continues whirlwind ascent with first win

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 3:13 am

DALLAS – Still shy of his 22nd birthday, Aaron Wise continues to prove himself to be a quick learner.

Wise went from unheralded prospect to NCAA individual champ seemingly in the blink of an eye while at the University of Oregon. After eschewing his final two years of eligibility in Eugene, he won in Canada on the Mackenzie Tour in his third start as a professional.

He continued a quick learning curve with a win last year on the Web.com Tour to propel him to the big leagues, and he didn’t flinch while going toe-to-toe with Jason Day two weeks ago, even though the result didn’t go his way.

Faced with another opportunity to take down a top-ranked Aussie, Wise made sure he got the job done Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson – even though it took until dark.

With mid-day rains turning a firm and fast layout into a birdie barrage, Wise seamlessly switched gears and put his first PGA Tour title on ice in impressive fashion with a bogey-free 65. Deadlocked with Marc Leishman to start the day, Wise made six birdies in his first 10 holes and coasted to a three-shot win as the leaders barely beat the setting sun to avoid an anticlimactic Monday finish at Trinity Forest Golf Club.

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

As it turned out, the hardest part of the day was enduring the four-hour weather delay alongside his mother, Karla, as his afternoon tee time turned into a twilight affair.

“She was talking to me in the hotel about what a win could mean, what a second could mean, kind of taking me through all that,” Wise said. “I was like, I’ve got to calm down. I can’t just sit here. I said, ‘You’ve got to go.’ I kind of made her leave the room.”

Wise displayed some jitters right out of the gates, with a nervy three-putt par on the opening hole. But with several players going on birdie runs to turn what seemed like a two-man race into a much more wide-open affair, Wise went on a tear of his own with four birdies in a row on Nos. 7-10.

That gave him a window over Leishman and the rest of the chase pack, and he never looked back.

“I talked to myself and kind of made myself trust my putting,” Wise said. “These greens out here are really tricky, and for me to roll those putts in on 8 and 9 really kind of separated things.”

Leishman had held at least a share of the lead after each round, and the 34-year-old veteran was looking for his third win in the last 14 months. But a bogey on No. 10 coincided with a Wise birdie to boost the rookie’s advantage from two shots to four, and Leishman never got closer than three shots the rest of the way.

“He holed putts he needed to hole, and I didn’t,” Leishman said. “Hit a couple loose shots where I could have probably put a bit of pressure on him, and didn’t. And that’s probably the difference in the end.”

Instead of sitting next to a trophy in Dallas, Wise could have been closing out his senior season next week with an NCAA appearance at Karsten Creek. But the roots of his quick climb trace back to the Master of the Amateurs in Australia in December 2015, a tournament he won and one that gave him confidence that he could hold his own against the best in the world. He returned to Eugene and promptly told his coach, Casey Martin, that he planned to turn pro in the spring.

The same dogged confidence that drove that decision has been the guiding force behind a whirlwind ascent through every rung of the professional ladder.

“I just have a lot of belief in myself. I didn’t come from a lot. A lot of people don’t know that. I didn’t get to travel a bunch when I played junior golf,” Wise said. “Kind of all along it’s been very, very few moments to shine and I have had to take advantage of them.”

Despite that belief, even Wise admits that he’s “shocked” to turn only his second real chance to contend at this level into a maiden victory. But fueled by the memories of a close call two weeks ago, he put the lessons learned at Quail Hollow to quick use while taking the next step in an increasingly promising career arc.

“It was awesome, everything I dreamed of,” Wise said. “To walk up 18, knowing I kind of had it locked up, was pretty cool.”

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Grace celebrates birthday with final-round 62

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:51 am

DALLAS – Branden Grace celebrated his 30th birthday in style, making the biggest charge of the final round at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Grace closed out a 9-under 62 as the sun began to set at Trinity Forest Golf Club, moving from outside the top 10 into a share of third place, four shots behind Aaron Wise. It equaled Grace’s career low on the PGA Tour, which he originally set last summer at The Open, and it was one shot off Marc Leishman’s course-record 61 from the opening round.

“Good birthday present. It was fun,” Grace said. “Little bit of imagination, little bit of luck here and there. You get more luck on the links golf course than maybe on a normal golf course.”

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

Weeks after Grace’s wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, he now has his best result on the PGA Tour since winning the RBC Heritage more than two years ago. As a world traveler and former Presidents Cup participant, the South African embraced an opportunity this week to go off the beaten path on an unconventional layout.

“It feels like a breath of fresh air coming to something different. Really is nice. I really enjoyed the golf course,” he said. “Obviously I think we got really lucky with the weather, and that’s why the scores are so low. It can bite you if it settles in a little bit in the next couple years.”

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Scott barely misses qualifying for U.S. Open

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:33 am

DALLAS – A birdie on the 72nd hole gave Adam Scott a glimmer of hope, but in the end even a closing 65 at the AT&T Byron Nelson wasn’t enough to earn an exemption into next month’s U.S. Open.

Scott entered the week ranked No. 65 in the world, and the top 60 in next week’s rankings automatically qualify for Shinnecock Hills. The cutoff was a big reason why the 2008 tournament champ returned for Trinity Forest’s debut, and midway through the final round it seemed like the Aussie had a shot at snagging a bid at the 11th hour.

Scott needed at least a solo ninth-place finish to pass an idle Chesson Hadley at No. 60, and while his 5-footer on the 18th green gave him a share of sixth place when he completed play, he ultimately ended up in a three-way tie for ninth at 15 under – barely short of a spot in the top 60.

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

“I tried to make the most of really favorable conditions today, and I did a pretty good job of it. Just never really got a hot run going,” Scott said. “I feel like I struggled on the weekend reading the greens well enough to really get it going, but I think everyone but the leaders did that, too. They’re not the easiest greens to read.”

Scott has played each of the last three weeks in an effort to earn a U.S. Open exemption, and he’ll make it four in a row next week when he returns to the Fort Worth Invitational on a course where he won in 2013. Scott still has another chance to avoid sectional qualifying by earning a top-60 spot at the second and final cutoff on June 11 following the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Scott has played 67 majors in a row, a streak that dates back to 2001 and is second only to Sergio Garcia among active players. While he’s prepared to play each of the next three weeks in a last-ditch effort to make the field, he’s taking his schedule one event at a time with the hope that one more good result might take care of business.

“I’ll play next week and hopefully play really well, and give myself a bit of cushion so I can take a week or so off and try to prepare the best I can for the U.S. Open,” Scott said.