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Francesco Molinari sees form return as Ryder Cup comes into view

Francesco Molinari sees form return as Ryder Cup comes into view

  • Italian’s 67 puts him joint top of leaderboard at Yas Links
  • Molinari: ‘There have been many, many, many low points’

Francesco Molinari will not even find evidence of former glories in his own home. “I don’t have a trophy room,” Molinari said. “I don’t think I have a picture of myself playing golf in the house.”

A replica of the Claret Jug he won in 2018? “I’ve got it somewhere,” he said. “It’s not exposed. It’s not in the middle of the living room. I’m not that sort of guy. I don’t need to see it, I can still remember.” Which is probably just as well, given the on-course problems Molinari has encountered in recent times. That Open glory at Carnoustie was his last victory.

There are – and notably, given the Ryder Cup this year is in his native Italy – indications of a return to his best. A second round of 67 here at Yas Links propelled Molinari to the top of the Abu Dhabi Championship leaderboard, where he has his compatriot Guido Migliozzi for company.

“I was lucky before 2018 not to have any big dips in form,” Molinari said. “It’s pretty hard to go a whole career without a time like that. We were pushing and pushing and pushing to get better and obviously when you work like that, there is a risk of taking a wrong turn. Then it’s sort of hard to turn it around.

“There have been many, many, many low points. I was lucky to have my family to sort of fall back on to all the time. No one likes hitting the ball wayward and shooting high scores, but it’s part of the game.”

It is already difficult for Molinari to avoid the Ryder Cup discussion. He was a key part of Europe’s victory over the United States in 2018. “If I’m going to be there, I want to be contributing to the cause and to the team,” added the 40-year-old. “I don’t want to be there for any other reason.”

Molinari and Migliozzi are unlikely to have things their own way over the closing 36 holes here. Jason Scrivener sits one adrift of their 10-under-par total. A quintet of players at eight under includes Scott Jamieson. Adrian Meronk, Shane Lowry and Ryan Fox lurk at minus seven. A 67 for Tyrrell Hatton fired him into the discussion at five under.

Thomas Pieters, last year’s champion, was among those to miss the cut. So too did Patrick Reed after rounds of 72 and 76.

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