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Monday, November 8, 2010

The Limerick Summary: 2010 WGC-HSBC Champions

Winner: Francesco Molinari

Around the wider world of golf: Jiyai Shin won the Mizuno Classic event co-sponsored by the LPGA and JLPGA, widening her lead in the Rolex World Rankings (you know by now to check Mostly Harmless and Hound Dog LPGA for more info, right?); and we have two winners on the Champions Tour -- John Cook won the Charles Schwab Cup Championship and Bernhard Langer won the year-long Schwab Cup competition, which is worth... ONE MILLION DOLLARS! (Do that Dr. Evil thang, Bernhard!)

All eyes were on Shanghai this week because four players had a chance to snag #1 in the OWGR and they were all playing! It had the makings of a great shootout and, after the first round, it looked like it might actually happen. Alas, it was not to be. The real face of the tournament was a bit unexpected:

Francesco Molinari, winner of the WGC-HSBC Champions
(Click the photo for a summary of what Francesco accomplished with this win, courtesy of europeantour.com.)

First, here's my quick assessment of the "also-rans":
  • Usually first-time major winners struggle after their win. Martin Kaymer played well after his, even winning again and doing well in the Ryder Cup, but the last couple of weeks have been... well, flat. I suspect it's finally all caught up to him and he just needs some time to celebrate his breakout year and regroup.
  • Phil Mickelson looked better than he has for a while, and the word is that his meds have finally been sorted out. Still, I think Phil's just tired after a long hard year. He's playing in Singapore this week, but I think he's going through the motions more than anything. Like Kaymer, he just needs some time to regroup.
  • And Tiger? I'm really encouraged by what I saw. True, he missed a short putt on the 18th to finish T4 -- which would tie his best finishes of the year -- but his T6 was still solid. You can tell he's not happy with his ball-striking, and I think he's just putting too much pressure on his putting as a result. I suspect he'll be ready by April.
Which leaves us with Lee Westwood, who showed why he deserves to be #1. Despite only 8 rounds of competition golf since July (other than the Ryder Cup) and admitting to some rust, Westwood casually stamped his mark on this WGC event. Despite not being on form, he finished a full 9 shots ahead of third place!

Unfortunately for Lee, Francesco Molinari finished 10 shots ahead of third place.

Francesco is the younger brother of Edourdo Molinari, who's already won twice on the EuroTour this year. Along with teen Matteo Manassaro, this makes the first time three Italians have won on the Tour in one year. Of course, this isn't his first time: Francesco has won before, back in 2006; he and Edourdo won the World Cup last December; and he had a couple of decent finishes in majors this year (30 at the Masters, 33 at the PGA). But I didn't realize just how well he's been playing. This year he has 7 Top 5s (a win now to go with two 2nds) and 10 Top 10s. That's not bad at all!

And now he's gone wire-to-wire to win a WGC event. That's an accomplishment at any tournament, let alone one with a world-class field.

So here's a Limerick Summary salute to the newest winner of a WGC event. While it wasn't a major, taking out the world #1 at point-blank range is pretty heady stuff!
How proudly this italiano
Faced Westwood. Like Tony Soprano,
Our smiling Francesco
Just said, “Ok, let’s go—
I’ll take you down mano a mano.”

6 comments:

  1. isn't mano a mano Spanish ? :-D

    Fantastic final round in China. But don't you know that if it was held on US soil as a PGA Tour event, there would be all kinds of complainers talking about how TV only covered two guys ? (lol)

    Wasn't the greatest coverage picture-wise. Come on guys - Paddy throws in an albatross and we see his follow through and the last 3 feet of roll. Then the same thing 5 minutes later when Molineri holes out for eagle.

    Loved the broadcast team calling the action - especially the Aussies.

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  2. It's both. I believe that in Spanish it means "hand-to-hand" and in Italian it means "little by little." Either translation is appropriate for Francesco's win, I think.

    The key here is that this wasn't technically a PGA Tour event -- that and the fact that this wasn't just two leaders coasting in... and that one of them was the newly-minted World #1!

    This "co-sanctioned" stuff is meaningless if it's only a PGA win for members. It would be in the Tour's best interest if they let Francesco join after this win -- he hasn't played as well as Kaymer this year, but his record is still pretty impressive.

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  3. Do we know if he actually wants to play on the PGA Tour ? More and more, that's becoming an incorrect assumption.

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  4. Granted, but if you're going to call it a "co-sanctioned" event, the winner should have that option. I understand wanting to attract the best players and not making PGA membership too easily available... but this is a WGC, for Pete's sake! The players have proven themselves if they're playing in it; these are the quality of players you want to see join the PGA Tour. If he chose to join, Francesco Molinari would be a great addition to the Tour.

    If they're going to "co-sanction" an event, they should give it full credit and not just pretend they support it.

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  5. Co-sanctioned doesn't necessarily mean that everybody gets all the goodies. Co-sanctioned can mean that more than one tour is sending players who get the goodies for their tour.

    If a PGA Tour guy had won the tournament, he wouldn't have been offered a Euro Tour card.

    Sure, either or both Molinari would be fun to watch on the PGA Tour - but they are also going to be fun to watch on the Euro Tour.

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  6. I thought maybe the winner would be offered a EuroTour card if they weren't a member.

    There is so much to learn, and I am still soooo young (*sigh*)... ;-)

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