FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Francesco Molinari lost his chance to win the Masters after hitting two balls into the water on the last seven holes, but his disappointment didn’t seem to last all that long.
The 2018 British Open champion led by two strokes entering the final round of the season’s first major, but double bogeys at the 12th and 15th holes hurt his chances, and he shot a 74 to tie for fifth, two strokes behind Tiger Woods.
“I wasn’t satisfied at all,” Molinari said Wednesday at the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. “But immediately after, you obviously look at things a bit differently. I was, I would say, happy because I was happy the way I fought on Sunday and the way I played, but obviously I was hoping for more at the beginning of the day.
“But I think for me really it was the first time that I was leading in a major. At Carnoustie [last July], I got the lead with only four holes to go, so you don’t have even really have time to think about it and it’s done, it’s over. Augusta was different from that point of view.
“I think the main thing is to get into that situation as often as possible; then you’re going to win some and lose some, like everyone. No one is unbeatable. But hopefully, I can be there many more times and get a bit of luck at the right time.”
Molinari, younger brother of Edoardo Molinari, winner of the 2005 U.S. Amateur at Merion, has been on a tear for much of the last year. He defeated Rory McIlroy to win the 2018 BMW PGA title in May, his biggest European PGA Tour victory to date. A little more than a month later, he picked up his first PGA Tour victory at the Quicken Loans National, and added the British Open a few weeks later.
After playing both the final round at Carnoustie and at Augusta National with Woods, Molinari will be in his company once again for the first two rounds of the PGA on Thursday and Friday, with defending champion Brooks Koepka rounding out the group.
“When I started 15 years ago, I wasn’t even dreaming of playing against Tiger," he said, "so I feel lucky enough to have played with him many times now in many important moments, for obviously my career but for his career, too. So, yeah, we’ve had a good relationship, and I’m sure both of us hope for many more occasions where we can play together in big moments.”
Molinari said he has heard from Italian spectators in the crowds at Bethpage Black during his practice rounds.