ITALY’S Edoardo Molinari has admitted that golf is the last thing on his mind with hundreds of people dying every day from COVID-19 in his country.
Edoardo, who made his Ryder Cup debut with brother Francesco 10 years ago at Celtic Manor, has written the current European Tour Player Blog explaining how he feels about the coronavirus pandemic which has killed thousands in Italy.
“I’m really not thinking about golf right now,” he wrote. “Even if I knew that my next event for sure would be in two months, six months or a year, at the moment there’s far more important things on my mind.
“I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to stay home, because there are a lot of people that have lost their jobs and will struggle for a long time in Italy, and around the world.”
Molinari has already had one close shave with the virus – he and Lorenzo Gagli were initially removed from the tournament in Oman, after his fellow Italian and room-mate was taken ill on the eve of the tournament with flu symptoms.
Both were tested overnight and cleared to play in the first round, starting at the back of the field after their places were given to two replacements.
Molinari had shown no symptoms but was tested because he was sharing a hotel room with Gagli.
Edoardo then played in Qatar but missed the cut on the Friday – when the European Tour announced the following week’s Magical Kenya Open was being postponed.
Molinari switched his flight and caught a plane home on the Saturday – and within 48 hours Italy had been put into lockdown.
He wrote: “We’ve been at home for just over two weeks and haven’t left the house for any reason in 10 days.
“It can be quite difficult to get a grasp of the situation because if you don’t leave home, it’s not like it’s any different from any other day.
“But as soon as you turn on the TV or go online to read the news, it’s everywhere.
“We are trying to avoid contact with people as much as we possibly can.”
The younger Molinari brother won twice on the European Tour in the year he made Colin Montgomerie’s team at Celtic Manor, after claiming the Johnny Walker Championship, at Gleneagles, to earn a wild card from Monty in 2010.
But right now that seems a million miles away, and in the past few years it is Francesco, who has captured all the headlines.
The younger brother claimed The Open at Carnoustie in 2018, and formed his famous Mollywood partnership with Tommy Fleetwood, in the Ryder Cup victory over the USA at Paris’ Le Golf National three months later.
Edoardo, who lives in Turin, said: “I consider myself very lucky because we can at least go out for a walk in the garden with the girls and the dog and spend time outdoors.
He has not seen his parents Micaela and Paolo for more than a month.
Contact is restricted to 10-minute phone calls every day – with videos and pictures exchanged so they can keep in touch with their grandchildren.
“Luckily we can use technology to communicate,” said the 39-year-old.
“Even if we could visit, we wouldn’t, because it’s just too dangerous to go around.
“I’ve also spoken with Francesco in London and we just spend time letting the kids talk on Facetime to each other.”
Molinari revealed he has a number of friends who work in the emergency services in Italy.
He paid tribute to the health service workers for going to work every day and putting their own lives at risk from infection to treat the sick and dying.
“It’s very scary to hear their stories when they tell you they have spent 18 hours in the hospital, and have seen so many people dying. It’s madness,” he said.
The 39-year-old, who lost 7&6 in the final of the 2006 Spanish Amateur Championship to Hampshire’s future Walker Cup player Sam Hutsby, considers himself “very lucky” to be leading a comparatively normal life – other than being locked up at home.
Some European Tour players have taken to Instagram and Twitter to post videos of how they are trying to keep in shape at home over the past week.
Molinari – who became the first Continental European to win the US Amateur in 2005 – has a small gym and a small indoor putting green.
“I spend an hour every day in the gym and half an hour putting – but at the minute golf is not a priority,” he stressed.
“The most important thing right now is to make sure we all behave in a way that can help this situation get under control.”
Molinari admitted he was surprised that other European countries did not go to lockdown at the same time as Italy.
“It just felt like common sense – after seeing what has happened in Italy – to stop it before it hits a high percentage of the population.
“I’ve been speaking a lot with Alvaro Quirós and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, who were relieved when lockdowns were announced in Spain.”
Molinari academy’s hospital cash
LAST year Molinari created a golf academy, which has ground to a halt over the last month – with his four teaching staff left with no one to teach because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The four teaching staff – including Welshman Craig Williams, who lost to Sergio Garcia in the final of the 1998 Amateur Championship – have created an online quiz on the academy’s Instagram page with daily prizes for the winners.
Looking to the future, Molinari believes in positive thinking as you might expect from a player used to competing against 150 players every week – when there can only be one winner.
Edoardo, who won the Trophée Hassan in 2018 to end an eight-year winless streak on the European Tour, stressed: “We can still be positive. We just have to be very careful and very patient.
“I think it will take a lot of time – much longer than people think – and it will be a difficult situation even once we are through it because of the impact on the economy.
“But I’m still very positive in the long term that we will get through this.
“If I said anything to you, it would be stay at home. Please don’t think you are immune to this virus, or that you won’t catch it.
“It’s better to be careful, to make a mistake on the safe side if anything, and just be patient and be positive.”
•You can read the blog in full here.
Quick Quiz on Edoardo Molinari – sorry no prizes
- Who played with Edoardo in the final round when he won the Barclays Scottish Open, at Loch Lomond, in 2010, and again when he won the Johnnie Walker Championship that summer?
- What was the highest position Molinari has achieved in the Official World Golf Ranking?
- How many brothers have won on the European Tour?
- Molinari’s best finish in a PGA Tour event was second – in which famous Florida event?
- How many times has Edoardo won on the Challenge Tour and the European Tour?
ANSWERS: 1) Brother Francisco – Darren Clarke was the third player in the group; 2) 14th in 2010; 3) Three – the Molinaris, Seve and Manuel Ballesteros and Antonio and German Garrido. 4) Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill; 5) Eight – five Challenge Tour and three European Tour wins.