Golf

Francesco Molinari to rest up before the majors

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CRAIL, Scotland (AP)

Francesco Molinari will rest in the week leading up to all four major championships in a bid to retain his place in the European Ryder Cup team this year.

The 29-year-old Italian missed the cut in the opening three majors last year, the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open.

The Masters starts on April 5, so he won't contest the Shell Houston Open in Texas this week after finishing near the tail of the field last year.

Molinari will also rest in the week before the June 14 start of the U.S. Open, and is unlikely to compete in the Scottish Open as it is staged just before the British Open begins on July 19 at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.

''Last year, I played in Houston before the Masters and I played the Italian Open the week before Congressional, and in discussing that with my coach, Denis Pugh, at the end of last year we thought that was not the ideal preparation,'' Molinari said. ''So my efforts in the first three majors last year was quite disappointing in missing the cut in all three.

''But at this time of the year I am hitting the ball better than I did last year, and this decision to at least not play the week before Augusta and the week before the U.S. Open, and then maybe not play the Scottish Open in the week before The Open, should help.''

The 43rd-rankled Molinari said his goal this year is to make the Ryder Cup team to play the United States from Sept. 25-30 at Medinah Country Club, Illinois.

''I know that if I miss the cut in the Majors it's not going to help my chances of getting back into the European team,'' he said. ''I'm into all the majors and the (World Golf Championships), so I need to be playing well in all of them in order to qualify as I am quite a long way down in the rankings at the moment.''

While about 20 Europeans will compete this week in Houston, the London-based Molinari will work with short-game coach Mark Roe at Wisley Club.

''I would have wished for something better and while I played well all week, I didn't putt all that well,'' Molinari said. ''But I still feel quite good going to Augusta.

''I still definitely need to work on my short game and putting as that is vital, but I have this week and then three days of next week, so there is time to do that.''

With Matteo Manassero missing out on earning a place inside the top 50 in the world rankings after finishing tied for third in the Hassan II Trophy in Morocco on Sunday, Molinari will head to Augusta National on Sunday as the only Italian in the field.

Tagged: Francesco Molinari

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