Francesco Molinari is one of the last global golf stars to return to competition in teeing-up at this week’s Shriners Hospital Open in Las Vegas.
The last time the brilliant 2018 Open winner was inside the ropes at a championship venue was for the opening round of the then cancelled Players Championship in Florida
Since then much has been written about the Italian with players such as good friend, Tommy Fleetwood being asked at last week’s ASI Scottish Open his view as to whether Molinari could again reach the highs of the game he displayed at Carnoustie or when he and Fleetwood combined to totally dominate the Ryder Cup later that year in France.
Now Molinari’s spoken of the disruption to the life of he, wife Valantina and their two young children in moving from their long-time Surrey residence near Wentworth to the urban sprawl of L A.
And the current World No. 73 insisted the move is the biggest decision of his career.
“Yes, I would say not only in career-wise, it’s obviously more of a family decision in the end, life decision,” he said. “When my wife and I moved to London 12, 13 years ago obviously we had no kids. It’s a bit different when you do before kids. Now there are a lot more moving parts, I guess.
“But, yeah, I think it’s worth a shot. I want to try and achieve as many things as possible in let’s say the second part of my career. My wife is supportive of that, and obviously she’s probably the one I guess in the toughest spot because she’s even further away from her family and friends.
“But, yeah, she’s supportive of that, and I’m going to try to make the most of it obviously, and hopefully we can settle in California and be there for a long time.”
Molinari went onto Twitter on 1st September explaining the reasons why he has not been seen in competition since early March, suggesting in his own language, but then translated to English, that he did not hang up the bag, there was no physical problem and it was a break to manage a life change with the family.
“I knew there were some questions but we were pretty busy with other things,” he said.
“But like I said, it was just a family decision, and I think that the circumstances with COVID, like I said, made a lot of people think about their setup and traveling a lot and all of that.
“I probably didn’t think that our situation in London with my schedule and what I wanted to do was sustainable for much longer, so we decided to give it a try and see how it will go.”
Molinari is no stranger to this week’s host course in Las Vegas having finished T4th in 2016 but then with the Masters just a month away, he was asked if he’ll be ready come November 12th.
“I don’t know if I will be ready for the Masters, so we will have to see,” he said. “I think — no, to be honest. Probably I will need an extra month or so. My goal mentally really is to be 100% for January next year. Anything that comes before then in this period of time, it’s kind of a bonus.
“I don’t know. It’s all new. It’s a situation — luckily I never had injuries or big injuries in my career so I never had such a long break from the game, so it’s all kind of new and exciting.
“This week obviously going to be pretty important to see how I react under pressure after such a long break. It will kind of dictate what I do between now and Augusta.
“But, yeah, I’m not expecting to be 100% ready for Augusta, no.”
And while Molinari eagerly looks forward to teeing-up in Las Vegas, he’s promised to have an eye on this week’s BMW PGA Championship having won the event two years ago by two shots in defeating Rory McIlroy, two months before his triumph at Carnoustie.
“Yeah it’s going to be hard not to be watching what happens at Wentworth,” he said.
“I mean, Wentworth has been one of my favourite events. Again, I was lucky enough to win it a couple years back. I’ll definitely be watching them when I’m not playing.
“It was kind of my home event for 10, 12 years, so I’ll miss not playing there, but hopefully I can go back some time in the near future.”