Molinari keen to defend Euro title

20 February 2019 04:50:07 EST

Francesco Molinari returns to European Tour action this week in the WGC-Mexico Championship and, in typical fashion, he is measured about his defence of the Race to Dubai title.

Last year the Italian won the Open Championship at Carnoustie and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, two stellar victories which allowed him to top the end-of-season rankings and claim the title from his great friend and celebrated Ryder Cup partner, Tommy Fleetwood.

He has made just one appearance in 2019, when T27th in the PGA Tour's Tournament of Champions, since when he has been suffering with the flu. Now he gets the chance to launch his attempt to top his home tour for a second time.

"I'm feeling great," he said at Club de Golf Chapultepec ahead of the first round. "Obviously it's different to show up as the Race to Dubai champion. I'll try to put up a good defence of that title and I'm looking forward to the season.

"I know it's not going to be easy to repeat but it's a long season and I'm glad to finally get started and hopefully get off to a strong start here in Mexico.

"I think the only way to follow up last year is to try and follow up with some of my own improvements, try not to get too outcome-focused.

"We all know in golf there are a lot of good players and the margins are very small, so I might play as well as last year and not win any tournaments.

"I need to be aware of that. I need to measure myself not so much on the wins but on how I feel on the course, how I play - and that's going to be the goal for the season, to try and improve what I feel like I can still improve and maintain what I was doing well last year."

His quest to get off to a strong start in Mexico City will rely on his ability to get off to faster starts than in the past because he has a curiously similar record in this tournament.

In both 2017 and 2018 he opened his account with a 71, he has never broken 70 in the second round, both Moving Days have witnessed 70s, and he's always posted a final round surge of 68. A steady history which has reaped T20th and T25th.

Molinari is 9/1 to win the Race to Dubai in 2019 and 50/1 to win this week's tournament outright.

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