Molinari's first Claret Jug sip could follow Ryder Cup win

Francesco Molinari (Getty)
Francesco Molinari (Getty)

Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines - Francesco Molinari spent weeks after winning his first major title at July's British Open carrying the Claret Jug with him, sitting it on tables as inspiration but never drinking a drop from it. 

But the trophy could get a workout this weekend if the 35-year-old Italian can help the European Ryder Cup team defeat the United States in the 42nd edition of the biennial team showdown that starts Friday at Le Golf National. 

"The Claret Jug, the first few weeks, it was with me all the time, and now I've learned to leave it behind, at least sometimes," Molinari said on Tuesday. 

"I've been asked a lot of times if I've drank out of it and I've not done that yet, but there's going to be a time for that, and there's still obviously this week was a massive focus." 

But Molinari hasn't needed the spiritual lift of seeing the cup in recent weeks, the impact of his major win at Carnoustie sinking in deeply. 

"After a few weeks, I decided maybe it wasn't the case to bring it with me all over the place. But the first few weeks, it was just about seeing it, really," Molinari said. "And for a guy like me, it takes awhile to realise what I've done and I've accomplished something like that. 

"I've got it for one year, and I need to enjoy it as much as possible. Use it, as well, to gain confidence for me and to really deeply understand what I've done and how I did it." 

Molinari enters his third Ryder Cup appearance having yet to win a match, going 0-4 with two halved on Cup-winning teams in 2012 and 2014. 

It's no wonder he says the pressure and tension of a Ryder Cup match against Tiger Woods in 2012 at Medinah was greater than he felt in holding off Woods to win his first major title at Carnoustie. 

"It's nowhere near - Carnoustie was nowhere near Medinah or in any matching ways," said Molinari. "It's hard to believe, but it's probably because you play for a team. You play for a continent in our case, and you know about the tradition and what players have done in the past." 

Becoming a major winner has changed his perspective and Molinari hopes his Ryder Cup luck will change as well. 

"It's different obviously coming in after a season like I've had," he said. "I've improved a lot as a player since 2012 and I hope to show that on the course this week. 

"I probably needed a few weeks after the Open to settle down and get back to the new normality, and then since then, it has been about really preparing for this week and trying to get here in as good of form as possible. 

"It's a great week. It's the highest adrenaline and the highest pressure you're ever going to feel on a golf course. I think the biggest thing is you need to deal with it the way you deal with it normally and in the way you know you can be successful." 

Molinari wouldn't consider trying to become the first player-captain since Arnold Palmer in 1963 when the Ryder Cup comes to Rome in 2022. 

"There's enough stuff going on if you're a player or a captain," he said. "And in your home country - I would probably lose a few years of my life and I don't want to do that, honestly."

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