Golf-Molinari brothers get ready for sibling show at the Masters
ORLANDO, Florida, March 27 |
ORLANDO, Florida, March 27 (Reuters) - The Molinari brothers are heading to the U.S Masters, bringing some sibling rivalry and Italian style to genteel Augusta and they are hitting their form with perfect timing.
In their latest tournaments, Edoardo Molinari is tied for fourth, just four strokes behind leader Ernie Els at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, while younger brother Francesco is five shots off the lead at the Andalucia Open in Malaga.
With less than two weeks to the start of the Masters, Edoardo's display on a challenging course, playing with world number three Phil Mickelson and in front of big crowds, indicated he should be able to handle the challenges of Augusta National.
"Playing with Phil today, I knew it was going to be a big day for me and I think I stood up to the test quite well," he said.
"I really enjoyed playing with him. Any time you have a chance to play with great players you have to enjoy it, it's the best you can have and it was great fun."
Molinari, who hails from Turin, played with Tiger Woods at the Masters in 2006, shortly after winning the U.S Amateur title and had his brother carrying his bag.
"It was a dream. Maybe I wasn't ready for that course then, because as an amateur you don't play anything like Augusta but having him on the bag helped a bit and we had the time of our life," he said.
Four years ago he missed the cut but he said playing Bay Hill has been the ideal build-up for a better showing at Augusta.
"I've worked very hard in the last four years and I think I am a better player. I just can't wait to go there and see how good I really am.
"Playing here helps a lot with the preparation for the Masters, especially with the way the course was set up here.
"The greens are not as quick as at Augusta but they are very good and you have a lot of chip shots around the greens which are similar to what you are going to get at Augusta National.
"Plus you have the crowds that I had playing with Phil."
The Molinaris are the first brothers to compete together at Augusta since Jumbo and Joe Ozaki in 2000, but there have been 26 other siblings who have appeared in the tournament.
It is unlikely that any of them will have appeared first as a caddy though and the curious nature of the pair's appearance is added to with a third Italian - 16-year-old Matteo Manassero is also playing at Augusta having qualified as the British Amateur champion.
"I think last year, no-one even dreamt of having three Italian players at the Masters," Edoardo Molinari said.
"Hopefully everyone (back home) is excited and there is the Italian Open a month after the Masters and hopefully we will see big crowds for that - that means something is changing.
"The Federation has been helping us a lot, especially the young pros and we have not yet seen the full results. Francesco and I turned pro just before this programme started.
"You have Manassero just starting and I am sure in the next few years, maybe not at the Masters, but you will see more Italians on the European Tour."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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