Carnoustie Open champion Francesco Molinari explains why he took a break from golf

Former Open champion Francesco Molinari will make his long-awaited return to action in Las Vegas in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Francesco Molinari won the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie in 2018.

Molinari’s victory at Carnoustie in 2018 was his third in a six-event spell which also produced two second places and the Italian went on to become the first European player to compile a perfect 5-0 record in that year’s Ryder Cup in Paris.

However, since squandering a two-shot lead with seven holes to play in last year’s Masters, Molinari has not recorded a single top-10 finish and has not competed since the WGC-Mexico Championship in February, where he was 53rd in the 72-man field after three consecutive missed cuts on the PGA Tour.

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Molinari announced in July that he and his family were in the process of moving from London to California and – although he hoped to be back in action in the US PGA Championship – he missed the year’s first major in San Francisco.

Francesco Molinari celebrates the 2018 Ryder Cup win in Paris when he became the first European player to compile a perfect 5-0 record.

The 37-year-old also opted out of the US Open in September and felt it necessary to reassure his fans on social media.

“I see a lot of questions,” Molinari wrote in Italian on his Twitter account. “I didn’t hang up the bag, I took a break to manage a life change with my family.

“I have no physical problems. I don’t feel burnt out, but only time will tell. I’m not changing gear.

“It will be hard to get back to the levels of 2018 no doubt, you don’t think it was easy the first time. I am the only one who has not returned.

“I am well aware of it, but it is not the first time that I have made different or unpopular choices (see Rio 2016).”

Molinari, who withdrew from the 2016 Olympics citing family reasons, added: “Having said all this, thanks to those who wait for me patiently. Like it or not, I’m doing this.”

While Molinari returns to action in Sin City, American Tony Finau has withdrawn from the event after testing positive for Covid-19.

“Earlier today, I received a positive result for Covid-19 under PGA TOUR on-site testing protocols and have begun a period of self-quarantine to protect others around me,” Finau wrote on his Twitter account.

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