How this major winner plans on getting back to world-beating form
BROOKLINE, Mass. — Three years ago, Francesco Molinari’s golf game was in peak form.
His previous 12 months featured a major victory, a dominant Ryder Cup performance, and a climb into the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking. The sky was the limit for the Italian, and a long stay as one of the top players in the game seemed to be in the cards.
But slowly over the next two years, Molinari’s game deteriorated. Top-10 finishes (and victories), which had become routine, suddenly vanished. His world ranking plummeted. Instead of playing for trophies, he was grinding to make cuts.
Golf is a fickle game, and Molinari’s tale is a prime example.
Heading into this week’s U.S. Open, the once-top-10 player is ranked 175th in the OWGR.
The good news? He’s got one of the brightest swing coaches in the game in his corner — Jamie Mulligan. The GOLF Top 100 Teacher has assembled a stable of some of the top pros in the game, and now he counts Molinari as one of his pupils.
“He’s a special guy,” Mulligan said. “He’s been a delight and a pleasure to work with.”
Ahead of the U.S. Open, Mulligan could be spotted on the range at Molinari’s side as he made final preparations to tackle The Country Club. The path back to world-beating form isn’t an easy one, but both men are up to the challenge.
Here’s the process the two are taking to get Molinari back to world-beating form.
When Molinari and Mulligan teamed up, they were already quite familiar with each other’s work. Mulligan had become a “huge fan” of Molinari as the Italian became one of the best players in the game, and the two had done consultations together before. But when the two teamed up on a full-time basis, it was time for what Mulligan calls “spring cleaning.”
“I got to watch him practice when he first moved to California to see exactly what he was doing,” Mulligan said. “And I got to find out all the things that were great and then also see all the things that weren’t working and throw them off the ship.”
Addition by subtraction
This “spring cleaning” allowed Molinari to become more efficient in his swing, and to become more consistent in the process. Mulligan didn’t want to make things more complex — Molinari has history as an elite ball striker — all he wanted to do was strip away the bad to reveal the good.
“In a nutshell, we just tried to make things simpler,” Molinari said. “Over the years, a few too many things got in that shouldn’t be there. It’s not really about adding stuff, but more about getting rid of what I don’t need. Making it more simple and more repetitive.”
Listen to the ball
The golf swing is complex, but the goal of golf is not — get the ball in the hole. Mulligan uses that truth to inform his teachings, and that’s been the case in his work with Molinari.
“We let the ball dictate what went on,” Molligan said. “We’ve done a great job collaboratively to realize that all we’re trying to do is get the little white ball do what we want it to. We’re just trying to figure out a more repetitive way to do that.”
Don’t look back
Molinari knows he has what it takes to win major championships — he’s done it before, after all — but that doesn’t mean he’s chasing the player he used to be. His work with Mulligan is focused on building a swing that can once again compete at the highest level, not necessarily trying to recapture old magic.
“We’re not really looking back to recreate something,” Molinari said. “Yes, I was swinging well back then, so some of the positions we might try to create, but it’s never been the case of looking back. We’re trying to make it better from here.”