Francesco Molinari admits he is in a “different position” as he returns to the Masters this year, but he is keen to avoid complacency.
The Italian has won his first major, The Open, since his last appearance at Augusta in 2018, while he also starred in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory before claiming the Arnold Palmer Invitational title last month.
Those successes mean Molinari is a genuine contender for the Masters, yet he acknowledges the need to continue his hard work if he is to keep competing atop the leaderboard.
“Clearly, I’m in a much different position to where I was coming in for the last few years,” he told a news conference. “I don’t want to deny that, I can’t deny that. I feel good about my game.
“But at the beginning of the week, I think pretty much everyone does. Then when you go out there, all majors, but I think here, Augusta, especially, they are tough tests. If you are not on your game, you’re going to pay the price for it.
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“Confidence comes with success – and I’ve had a lot of success in the last few months. I think that the important thing is that I don’t let my guard down.
“I still have to go through all the work and the process that got me to this point and hopefully will get me even further forward in my career.”
Molinari’s best finish at Augusta came in 2012 when he was tied for 19th, but he hopes to prove he has ironed out the issues he has experienced previously on the famous course.
“I think what has let me down in the past is on the greens and around the greens, where it’s a very tough test because of the speed of the greens and the undulation,” he said.
“I hope to show the progress that I’ve made on the greens and around the greens in the last few months and get a good performance in this week.”