ShareThis Page
Francesco Molinari finally flinches, opens door for Tiger at Masters | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World Sports

Francesco Molinari finally flinches, opens door for Tiger at Masters

Associated Press
1023610_web1_1023610-017bbda1104c45c3b4a17d8ba119ed60
AP
Francesco Molinari, of Italy, looks up as he hits a tree on the 15th hole during the final round for the Masters golf tournament, Sunday, April 14, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Francesco Molinari was gracious in defeat, despite losing control of the Masters following a wet and disappointing back nine.

Just two bad shots, that’s all it took. Two splashdowns in the water and two double bogeys Sunday left him watching Tiger Woods celebrate capturing another green jacket.

But Molinari was anything but petulant following the stinging setback. He acknowledged that watching Woods make history was special. Despite blowing a three-shot lead during the final round, he could appreciate the roars from the crowd and the electric atmosphere at Augusta National.

However, he stopped short of saying he turned into a fan for a moment on the 18th green when Woods won.

“No,” he said before breaking into a small grin. “Sorry.”

After playing rock-solid golf for 3½ rounds, Molinari flinched and errors opened the door for Woods and others. Molinari hit his tee shot into the water at No. 12, and his third shot on No. 15 ended up wet as well.

The 36-year-old Italian went 49 straight holes without a bogey at one point during the tournament, but a couple of bad swings erased all that good work in a hurry.

“From my point of view, it’s just a step along the way,” Molinari said. “I think it wasn’t my day today. That ball on 12, if it is one yard further left it goes in the bunker (instead of the water). The third shot on 15, it could easily have not clipped the tree.

“Sometimes it’s your day. Sometimes it isn’t.”

Molinari said he hit an 8-iron on the decisive 12th hole. Last year’s British Open champion said the wind was difficult to judge Sunday, and he didn’t always have the control he wanted.

“We picked the right shot.” Molinari said. “I just didn’t hit it hard enough. Simple as that. It was tough today with the wind gusting. I managed to scramble well on the front nine. I just had a couple mental lapses on the back nine that were costly.

“But it is what it is.”

It looked like Molinari might run away with his second major in two years during the first part of the round. He made six straight pars as others faltered. When he walked to the No. 7 tee box, he had a three-shot lead, looking unfazed by what was happening around him.

He made bogey on No. 7 to end his par-or-better streak at 49 holes, but recovered with a birdie on No. 8. At the turn, he was still two shots ahead.

But the first double bogey on No. 12 dropped him into a tie for the lead. The second on No. 15 sent him tumbling out of contention.

“You cannot open the door to those kids of great players,” Molinari’s caddie Pello Iguaran said. “So you see what happens.”

By the time No. 18 approached, the roars from the crowd had turned toward Tiger. The opportunity for his second major title had disappeared.

“I’m really happy of the way I felt out there,” Molinari said. “I was calm, collected, never panicked — even after the first double bogey. I learned a lot of things today.

“I did a few things I wish I had done differently now, but I learn from my mistakes.”

Categories: Sports | US-World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.