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.”

Getty Images

Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''


Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

Getty Images

Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

Getty Images

Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

Getty Images

Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.