Molinari reveals he struggled with illness during Masters collapse

Francesco Molinari revealed illness hindered him at last month’s Masters when he lost the lead on the final day to allow Tiger Woods to take a famous victory.

Open champion Molinari took a two-shot lead into round four at Augusta and still held the advantage after the front nine but eventually had to settle for a tie for fifth place having found the water twice.

Ahead of this week’s US PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, the Italian went into detail about the physical problems he was battling at the tournament, and hinted they had contributed to his challenge faltering on Sunday.

“There wasn’t much getting over anything,” he told reporters. “Obviously it took some time to recover physically because I wasn’t 100 per cent all week in Augusta. I was taking antibiotics, and I think it was a big effort to do what I did.

“Probably on Sunday, when the adrenaline kind of went down, I felt how much I was spending energy-wise during those days.

“It was just a sore throat and a bug that I got from the kids at the beginning of the week. But nothing major, and I was feeling well enough, obviously, to play well in Augusta. But I think sometimes in those circumstances, you ask a lot to your body, and then at some point you’re going to pay a price for it.

“I’ve obviously analysed what happened at Augusta with the people around me, but it was pretty quick and straightforward.

“If I look at Sunday at Augusta, I think I almost played better on the back nine than on the front nine, like how I was hitting the ball. The front nine I wasn’t feeling very comfortable hitting the ball off the tee, and I made a lot of good up-and-downs.

“You’re struggling to save par the whole time. Back nine I swung the club better. I obviously hit a couple of bad shots, but a lot of good swings, as well, under pressure.

“So that’s what we focused on the last couple of weeks prepping for this week. If I’m up there again on Sunday, maybe I could take something that could be useful from Augusta.

“It’s just being in the situation, obviously the more often you get into it, naturally the better you’re going to get at it, and the more relaxed you’re going to feel in those conditions.”

When Molinari was asked for his verdict on a notoriously difficult course for the second major of the year, he replied with a laugh: “Long, very long, and extremely long!

“It’s just a course where you need to hit the fairways, but even if you do hit the fairways, then there’s a long way to go. There’s not many short holes.

“The greens I think, as well, are going to make it very difficult. The greens are really fast, and that’s obviously a big factor if you’re coming in with 3-woods and hybrids and 4-irons.

“I don’t see the scoring being too low, but we’ll see what kind of conditions we get.”