April 14, 2019: Francesco Molinari is among the favourites for the first Major Championship of the year following a stand-out 2018, but his first taste of the Masters Tournament came in a non-playing capacity – as a caddie.
Despite being two years younger than Edoardo, Francesco joined the professional ranks two years before his brother, yet that did not stop him from performing younger sibling duties at the 2006 Masters Tournament.
The story dates back to the 2003 Amateur Championship when Molinari Jnr reached the semi-finals at Royal Troon with Edoardo on the bag.
“Edoardo and I had an agreement for Majors in general. We said the first Major either of us reached, the other one would caddie. Obviously, I was hoping it would be the other way around!
“It was a couple of years before Dodo reached the Masters that we made the agreement. We were playing in the Amateur Championship at Troon and I got to the semi-finals with Edoardo caddying for me, so it started there. I said: ‘if you get to the Masters or The Open I’ll come and caddie for you’.”
Two years elapsed before that agreement kicked into action when Edoardo became the first Italian to win the distinguished U.S. Amateur Championship in 2005. As a result of that victory, the older Molinari qualified for the Masters, the U.S. Open and The Open Championship, meaning Francesco would carry the bag at Augusta National in 2006.
Coming off the back of a missed cut at the Open de Portugal in April 2006, Francesco hopped on a plane for Georgia, USA, where Edoardo had already spent a few days practising ahead of his Major debut.
Molinari landed on the Monday of tournament week, ready to begin caddying on Tuesday, and although it was a wonderful experience to attend the Masters for the first time, it was also difficult; Francesco wanted to be playing and Edoardo hadn’t brought his A-game, making the caddie’s job all the more trying.
“It was incredible to be there. It’s a place that I’d watched so many times on TV. He was there the week before and had someone else caddying for him. On one hand, it was super exciting to be there, but then on the other hand it was more than frustrating.
“It’s not a great course to be on the bag, especially when your player is not playing the best! You’re trying to pull clubs with water on holes like 12 and 15 – I was struggling to give him clubs!
“He struggled both days – I can’t remember what he shot – but he was a long way off making the cut. It wasn’t a great feeling from that point of view, but it was a great experience to be there.”
He might have already been a European Tour member, but Molinari didn’t expect any preferential treatment in his new role on the bag. He could have stayed with Edoardo and the rest of the Molinari family but, instead, he spent the week in Caddie HQ and the clubhouse was strictly off limits.
“All week I stayed in the caddies’ headquarters and went nowhere near the clubhouse” he remembers. “I had the full caddie treatment, but it was already amazing being treated as a caddie there. It was incredible.
“We played with Tiger and Robert Allenby. We were both looking at Tiger the whole time. He didn’t play incredibly but he made the cut and I think he made a two on 14 the second day, which was our highlight! It was incredible to see him play.”
He made his Masters Tournament debut wearing a white suit, but as he prepares to return to Augusta in a playing capacity for the eighth time, Francesco Molinari will have his eyes on a jacket of a different colour in 2019.