Francesco Molinari is the most accurate driver on the PGA Tour. That's not our opinion – it's a FACT. He hit more fairways than anyone else last season. We asked him for his secrets to finding the short grass, his plans for the Ryder Cup 2016 – and his love for West Ham.
Your driving accuracy of 76.88% was the best recorded on the PGA Tour since 2008. What's your secret?
It’s a mixture of playing to my strengths and working out a good strategy. The strength of my driving is accuracy rather than distance, so I don’t try to hit the ball too hard. I know that it is better for me to be further back in the fairway than further up in the rough, so I work hard on finding the right line from each tee.
Any tips for helping us hit more fairways?
It depends on the course, but usually I try to focus on a really small target. In golf you need to make the margin of error as wide as you possibly can and the best way of doing this is to aim for a specific spot rather than a general area.
What made you decide to play more in America last season?
I’d been playing pretty much the same courses on the European Tour for 10 years and felt like it was time to try something different. I knew that the courses in America were firmer and faster, so going over there would present a challenge that would help me get better. So far, I’ve played pretty well and am loving it.
CharityStars recently auctioned off a round of golf with you. What would be your dream lot in a golf auction?
It would be a piece of memorabilia that had been used by Costantino Rocca, because he was my idol growing up. I’d love to buy something from his match against Tiger Woods in the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama or the putter he used to hole the famous putt in the 1995 Open at St Andrews.
The person who wins the round with you is likely to be very nervous. When did you last feel anxious before a round?
I feel nervous before every event, because I work hard and care about what I do.
I think the most nervous I’ve ever been was at the Ryder Cup. The pressure in the build-up to that event is unique because you are playing for a team as well as yourself. It is a different environment that makes you feel more nervous than usual.
Is getting back into the Ryder Cup team a big goal for 2016?
It is, but I won’t think about that until next season. Right now I am focusing on taking some time off. It’s been a long year, so I’m going to begin my off-season with a holiday somewhere warm. After that I will start working in the gym and then begin to hit balls again.
What is the best shot you’ve ever hit?
The 15-yard bunker shot that secured Italy’s 2009 World Cup victory. I was playing with my brother Edoardo and I knew that I needed to get up and down in order for us to win by a shot. I hit it to around four feet. The more I look back, the more I appreciate how well I played that shot.
You’ve recorded three 62s on the European Tour. When can you tell you’re on for a really low one?
I’m not sure you ever do, because during those rounds you forget about your score and play shot by shot. If you had asked me how I was doing in the middle of one of those rounds I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell you whether I was six, seven or eight-under.
I was just trying to birdie every hole.
Finally, how did a boy from Turin end up as a West Ham fan?
There are a couple of reasons. I am a big Gianfranco Zola fan, so I got more into them when he was the manager there. And they remind me of my Italian team, Inter Milan. Both teams were really good in the 1960s, but have not been doing so well recently.