Open win alongside Tiger counts for little at Augusta, says Molinari

Francesco Molinari says he does not intend to draw heavily on his success at last year’s Open Championship, in the company of Tiger Woods, when the two play together in the final round of the Masters on Sunday.

Molinari remained cool under immense pressure to secure his maiden major title at Carnoustie, having been paired with former world number one Woods for the last 18 holes.

The Italian went on to excel at the 2018 Ryder Cup and is now in pole position to claim a first green jacket, after shooting a bogey-free 66 to top the Augusta leaderboard by two shots on 13 under.

Woods, the winner of 14 majors, and Tony Finau will be alongside Molinari when round four begins earlier than scheduled, with organisers hoping to finish the event before an anticipated barrage of poor weather.

Asked if he would benefit from the fact he won The Open playing with Tiger, Molinari said: “I think how I hit the ball tomorrow [Sunday] will help my comfort a lot more than thinking about Carnoustie. I don’t think I’ll be thinking about Carnoustie a lot.

“It’s going to be a battle. There’s him [Woods], a lot of guys … but you know, it’s a different tournament, different course. A few months has passed by, and anything can happen.

“The plan is [to] hit the middle of the clubface as much as possible and find the ball and hit it again.”

Fourteen years on from the most recent of his four triumphs to date at Augusta, Woods is looking to seal a fairytale victory, having recovered from career-threatening back injuries to shine at the highest level once more. 

“He obviously loves this place, and he’s playing great golf,” said Molinari, who is nevertheless aware Woods is far from his only rival for Masters glory.

“I’m aware that it’s not going to be easy tomorrow [Sunday],” he added. “But it’s not like I can only worry about him. There’s a lot of guys in with a chance.”

Asked to name a favourite ahead of the final round, Molinari simply replied: “It’s golf. So the favourite is probably the golf course out there waiting for us.”