Francesco Molinari's birdie blitz should keep family happy


Francesco Molinari made a dazzling start to the Scottish Open yesterday. The 29-year-old Italian leads after a 10-birdie course-record 62 at Castle Stuart in Inverness, against a field that includes the world No 1, Luke Donald, and 10 major champions.

Molinari's older brother, Edoardo, won the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond two years ago, three months before the two men played in the Ryder Cup. Edoardo, however, had surgery on his left wrist two weeks ago and is likely to spend this summer recovering.

"It would be nice to do well this week for him as well – to cheer him up a little bit," said Francesco, who finished second in the French Open last Sunday thanks to a closing 64. If he wins this weekend it would be only the second time in European Tour history that brothers have won the same event. The Spaniards German and Antonio Garrido were Madrid Open champions in 1973 and 1977.

Molinari – who is on course to face the Americans again in September – admitted that at 10 under after 15 holes he had worked out that three more birdies would give him the course's first 59. It didn't happen – he collected three pars – but he can still claim to have broken 60 for 18 holes. In Paris he played his last nine in 29 and here he turned for home in 30.

Donald had some of the gloss taken off his return to golf when he bogeyed two of his last five holes. But considering that he had birdied six of the previous seven and handed in a 67 in his first competitive round since missing the cut at the US Open, the world No 1 was still smiling.

Donald is defending the Scottish Open title he won with a closing 63 on the same course last year, and he said that if he had been a little sharper he might have matched that score.

"After three weeks off from competitive golf that was a nice solid round," he said. "Overall I'm pleased.