Major champion Francesco Molinari relocates to L.A and lands at Riviera, with a stop at Virginia Country Club
For many decades, Southern California has been at one time or another home to some of the game’s greatest major champions. Billy Casper, Gene Littler, Fred Couples, Mark O’Meara, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson immediately come to mind.
We can now add Francesco Molinari to that list.
The 2018 winner of The Open Championship, three-time PGA Tour champion and native of Turin, Italy, relocated earlier this year with his family from London to the tony L.A. suburb of Brentwood. The three-time Ryder Cupper will make Riviera Country Club in neighboring Pacific Palisades his home course, according to longtime friend Jamie Mulligan, the Chief Executive Officer and PGA Professional at Virginia Country Club in Long Beach.
Over the past few months, as Molinari and his family came to Southern California and began looking for a place to settle down, he made Virginia CC his temporary home to sharpen his game – especially as he aimed to return to the PGA Tour after a long absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I've been practicing mostly at Virginia Country Club just because they've been nice enough to host me, and Jamie Mulligan is there and he was kind enough to welcome me and my team to do the work we needed to do,” Molinari told reporters before the Shriners Hospital for Children Open in mid-October, his first start on Tour in nearly eight months. “We're not working together, but he's just been great. Everyone there at Virginia has been very accommodating, so it's been a nice place to go every day.”
When Molinari tweeted in late September “Thanks for having me Virginia Country Club today! It’s a long way back but the process has started,” some in Southern California golf circles assumed he had hired Mulligan as his instructor. That’s likely because Mulligan has coached so many Southern California-based touring pros over the years, especially players with ties to Long Beach. Players such as Patrick Cantlay, Paul Goydos, John Cook, Luke List, John Merrick, John Mallinger and endless others can credit Mulligan for keeping them at the top of their games.
“Francesco Molinari is one of the best gentlemen in the game,” Mulligan said last week before putting rumors of a professional relationship to bed. “He is moving to Brentwood and is going to make Riviera his home base. We are pals and he has been coming to Virginia to practice occasionally. There’s not much more to it than that.”
One of Riviera CC's newest members and the 2018 Open champion explains how to find more fairways.
Molinari, 37, remains within the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking despite the long layoff to relocate his family.
“We were thinking about moving in the last few years, with my wife and my family spending more and more time over here,” Molinari said. “We spent some time in San Francisco but in the end decided to move down to L.A. So now we're there. We got schools and a house sorted and all of that, so starting slowly to feel like we really settling. It's going to take time obviously, but we are happy to be here as a family.”
And while Molinari has won on some of the game's biggest stages, his results at his new home course have been less than stellar. In five starts at The Genesis Invitational, he has missed the cut three times and finished no better than T40.
Still, he said he expects his move to Southern California to be beneficial personally and professionally.
“I want to try and achieve as many things as possible in let's say the second part of my career,” Molinari said. “My wife is supportive of that, and I'm going to try to make the most of it obviously, and hopefully we can settle in California and be there for a long time.”
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