Golf: Molinari flying the flag at Masters

Big names vie at iconic first major, apart from injured Woods

Redazione ANSA ROME

(ANSA) - ROME, APR 7 - Francesco Molinari, the 2018 British Open winner and Italy's only major winner ever, is set to fly the flag for the Bel Paese at this week's 85th Masters, the first major of the season.
    Molinari has dropped outside the world top 100 after recent seesaw performances but still has the class to compete at Augusta.
    He almost won the tournament in 2019, a year after his stellar 2018 including a peerless Ryder Cup, leading the field until a disastrous Amen Corner relegated him to fifth.
    And to think that Molinari's first appearance at the Georgia classic, in 2006, was carrying the bag for big brother Edoardo, two years older than him at 40 now.
    Molinari will be vying with all the sport's big names apart from the biggest of all, Tiger Woods, who is recovering from a car crash in February.
    World no 1 Dustin Johnson will be trying to repeat his triumph of a year ago while countrymen Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, Spain's Jon Rahm, and Rory McIlroy will be among the other big hitters with the pride of Northern Ireland aiming to complete a career Grand Slam.
    But it will be a sadder event without the crowd-pulling Woods, who rolled back the years in 2018 to bag his fifth Green Jacket, one short of Jack Nicklaus's record six, and took his major total up to 15, three shy of the Golden Bear's record tally of 18.
    In all, 88 players will be bidding for golf's most iconic trophy, including three amateurs. among them Tyler Strafaci, whose Italo-American grandfather played his first masters in 1938. (ANSA).