Italian golfer Francesco Molinari hit the gym and worked on his power ahead of his defining win at the 2018 Open Championship, which was history’s first major win by an Italian.
Through working on power, Molinari came to realize the importance of pushing up off the ground to create vertical force, which is then transferred through the club and into shots. Surprisingly, this didn’t just improve his power off the tee, but his accuracy too. Here, he reveals to RSNG the impact that this had on his historic win, as well as his work to recover from an unlucky injury…
RSNG How important was the work you did to increase your power to your victory in The Open Championship?
FRANCESCO MOLINARI, PGA GOLFER “I think that had a lot to do with it, yes. It really seemed to increase not just the power but the accuracy I was getting off the tee. There were a few different techniques I practiced, but I think the one most people picked up on was where I push up off the ground in creating vertical force, which is then worked through the club.
“It is an unusual thing to watch perhaps, and you wouldn’t think that pushing against gravity would be a particularly good way of directing more power into the club, but it has had a really positive effect on me and I know other golfers are starting to explore the wider physics of how to modify their game.
“It has become about more than just what your body and the club does. It is a really interesting time for golf technology.”
RSNG What does your Open Championship win in 2018 mean to you?
FRANCESCO MOLINARI “Of course it is still the greatest moment for me. It is that simple, although how you perceive it changes over time, of course. It was an event where everything came right for me, and perhaps my struggles with injury mean that I look back on it even more fondly now. Either way, it is always there as a memory that will define me as a person and shape my actions forever.”
To be really good you need to be multidimensional – it’s the difference between a golfer who can be good one day in every three and one who can sustain performance throughout a championship
RSNG Looking back, what was the most challenging thing about winning that major?
FRANCESCO MOLINARI “I think for me it came down to something I was taught very young in my golf life, namely that to be a really good golfer you need to be multidimensional. That is, ultimately, the difference between a golfer who can be good one day in every three or four, and a golfer who can sustain a level of performance throughout a championship so that he takes home the trophy.
“That Open win for me was exactly typical of multi-dimensional golf, both physically and in the mind, so it is for those reasons that I count it as very special.
“Of course, any victory is special; but a victory gained from being very versatile and responsive to the changes around you is one that gives you an extra feeling of pride and accomplishment, and as the years have gone by that is now how I view that event.
“It was one of those where everything clicked for me – because you need luck in playing golf – but also where I made all the right decisions when challenges came my way.”
The golden rule of recovery is not to rush it - I have rushed back from injury and it presents more challenges than it solves
RSNG Can you outline what workouts you did to recover from injury?
FRANCESCO MOLINARI “As you would expect, everything is low impact. A back injury is really one of the most punishing and debilitating in golf, because all that movement goes through your spine. Of course it is also one of the most common golf injuries.
“I had to just accept it, with a golden rule of recovery being not to rush it. I think most athletes will tell you that, but it is true. I have rushed back from injury and in the long-term it presents you with more challenges than it solves.
‘“As for the frustration, I am of the mind that very quickly you must move on from the disappointment and focus on getting better.”
RSNG Do you have any golden rules of recovery?
FRANCESCO MOLINARI “For me, recovery is as much about mental conditioning as it is physical. Physically it is not exciting and it’s about gradual building up of strength again – I think that is obvious.
“Mentally is where you need to consider things more – it is having faith that things are getting better and focusing, then perhaps realigning your expectations of when you will get back on the course.
“As for when you will be competitive again, well, you need faith that will come. I think it’s possible to play 51 weeks of the year if you want to head around all over the place, so you will never be short of a tournament, and these are the conversations you need to have with yourself.”
Test yourself in different conditions – make a point of going out in poor conditions or high winds – and enjoy the challenge, see how the ball responds and see how you respond
RSNG What tips would you have for amateur golfers looking to up their game?
FRANCESCO MOLINARI “Play golf! You will only get to your best by practicing and practicing; but you will only really challenge yourself in competition.
“I had played a fair bit of golf as a child, but it wasn’t until I was maybe 15 or 16 that I started to enter tournaments close to where I live. The golf was all pretty low-level but I started to get a real appreciation of how to put a score together, of how to deal with pressure, and how to pull out extra percentages from within when I knew I needed to.
“By doing that, you improve who you are and how you are as a golfer, so that’s vital. You will never get that just by playing amateur golf with mates – you need to push your capabilities further and get outside your comfort zone, always.
“I would also say to test yourself in different conditions. Don’t just go out when the weather is nice or there is no breeze – make a point of going out in poor conditions or high winds, and enjoy the challenge. See how the ball responds; see how you respond.”
WHAT NEXT? Find out how UK golfer Matt Fitzpatrick gets over the hump of missing cuts in the RSNG interview here.