Scottish Open champion Edoardo Molinari made a great start to the Nordea Scandinavian Masters in Stockholm today – and that was bad news for England’s Luke Donald.
A high finish at the spectacular Bro Hof Slott course on Sunday will lift the 29-year-old Italian into a top nine spot on Europe’s Ryder Cup table alongside his brother Francesco, but at the expense of Donald with only five more weeks to go in the race.
On greens he rates the best he has played on the European Tour and as good as those at Augusta National, Molinari shot a four under par 68 to be only one behind Australian left-hander Richard Green.
“I don’t put too much pressure on myself to qualify,” he said. “If I make the team great, but if I don’t it’s still the best year of my career and I won’t be upset.
“To make the Ryder Cup is something very difficult, especially considering I was playing the Challenge Tour last year.
“It would be fabulous, but I don’t want to think about it too much.”
Out in the first group of the day at 7.20am Molinari out-scored playing partner Rickie Fowler, the young American who might yet earn a debut as well at Celtic Manor in October, by five.
But Green, a two-time winner on the circuit, hit an eight-iron to three feet for a seventh birdie of the day on the 407-yard last to take the outright lead.
“My driving was exceptionally good,” he said. “A friend brought one out from the UK that I’ve used before, so hopefully it will keep working like that.”
Open champion Louis Oosthuizen was among the later starters – and despite a wind picking up and a storm brewing he kicked off with a birdie.
Molinari shared second spot with Swede Steven Jeppesen and Argentina’s Rafa Echenique. They had two and four holes to play respectively.