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March 13, 2019

Francesco Molinari

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

MARK WILLIAMS: We would like to welcome Francesco Molinari to the interview room here at THE PLAYERS Championship. Francesco, you're coming in here off a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, a very exciting victory. You mentioned that you were going to celebrate in a certain way. Can you just let us know what you did on Sunday night after the victory.

FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Yeah, well, basically we had to drive up to here to Sawgrass, so got in the car with my caddie pretty much straightaway after the end of the tournament and then we got here and got some nice pizza-pizza.

MARK WILLIAMS: You've had an interesting record here at TPC Sawgrass. You've played eight times, you've missed the cut four times, but you've also finished in the top-10 four times. Now that the tournament's in March and you haven't experienced that, what do you think will be different? You've had a look at the golf course; you were mentioning you had a practice round with Vijay this morning.

FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Yeah, the golf course is definitely, I think, very different from what I've played. Guys like me who have never played in March definitely saw something different. So it's going to be interesting, I think it's going to be depending a lot on the wind, but it looks pretty breezy, I think, all week, so it's going to be a challenging week for everyone. I think it's just going to be about adapting.

Obviously when you go back year after year to the same course, after a few years you kind of know your way around, and this time I don't think it's really going to be the case because it's going to play very, very different to what we saw the last few years. So my record is, yeah, either very good weeks or very bad weeks, so we'll see what's in store for this year.

MARK WILLIAMS: Open it up to questions.

Q. How much have you played this week? What have you done so far?
FRANCESCO MOLINARI: I played the front nine yesterday and the back nine today.

Q. Have you found in those 18 holes at all any shots that you played differently from what you're used to? In other words maybe a line you take off a tee that you can, because it's probably playing longer, isn't it?
FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Yeah, I mean, I was going to say yesterday we played, I played the front nine with kind of a northerly wind, so it was maybe more to be expected this time of the year, and every hole was different to what I remember. Today on the back nine it was more of an east wind, which we probably played in May sometimes, but still, the fairways are a lot softer, so it's a completely different golf course.

Q. Is that island still there on 17?
FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Yeah, unfortunately, yeah.

Q. I first saw you working with Dave Alred late one evening at Erin Hills. Is he still working with you? Is it still the same way? And could you explain to me, please, precisely what it is he's so good at doing with you?
FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Yeah, we're still working together. It's still the same as last year. I think Dave is not the kind of guy to get too influenced by results, by outcomes, so I think if I were to have a very bad year or an extremely good year, nothing would really change for him. He's good at making people better, golfers play better, I guess rugby players kick better. He just has an amazing mentality of little by little getting better every year, looking at every possible angle to gain little advantages. I know it's very general. You said to be precise, but it's -- we do a lot of precise stuff, but I think that the main thing is the more general approach that he brought to me and probably to the rest of the team as well that needed it.

Q. But more generally in what way?
FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Giving nothing for granted at any time, making no assumptions at any time. From any point of view, the way I train in the gym, can we relate that better to what I do on the course. What I eat, how I think, what I do before going to bed. So it's not only the on-course stuff, it's a very general approach and every possible way that you can think of to gain a small advantage towards your competitors.

Q. Is there any reason why he couldn't work with any other player, or does he indeed work with any other player? He's attracted a lot of publicity from his success with you.
FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Yeah, I think he's done some like days with other players. I think with the amount of time we both kind of invest together on my game, plus he has some rugby commitments and he works with a pentathlete and he's got a lot of other stuff going on, I don't think he has the time to do with another golfer what he does with me, because we work together a lot of hours when we're at home, at tournaments, and when he's not with me, he's usually working on something else, so it's not like he has a lot of free time.

Q. Looking back at what you achieved the last 12 months, wins on the PGA and European Tour, the major championship, of course, and unbeaten Ryder Cup record, now 7th in the World Ranking, have you noticed a difference in terms of the demand there is on you off the golf course but still at golf tournaments?
FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Yeah, it's very different and to be expected. I'm looking at Gorka because he has to say a lot of no's on my behalf, but I think it would be wrong for me to say yes to everything and to change what I do and who I am. Obviously I had to adapt a little bit, and I think after The Open Championship last year, for everyone around me was a bit of a wake-up call because they saw how I reacted to the sudden attention and just the time I had to spend doing things that if I had the choice probably I wouldn't have done.

So, yeah, it's a matter of trying to find a balance and I know I have to do some stuff, and it's just, yeah, finding a balance between doing what I need to do and still have the time to work and have the time to spend at home with the family and I think that's going to be always the first priority.

Q. Do you feel like your position in the game is different? Do you feel anymore responsibility now as being as high ranked as you are?
FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Yes and no. I feel a responsibility towards myself, first of all, to prepare and to show up at tournaments after a good preparation. I feel a responsibility towards my family, knowing that if I don't spend time with them because I'm away playing tournaments, I better make the most of it. And then I feel a responsibility towards the guys in my team, because I know they obviously invest their time in me, and so, yeah, I mean, there's a lot of responsibility. I don't think it's changed. I mean I try to be available with fans and to speak to you guys when I have to, but I think that's not changed too much, no.

Q. Following on from that, what I wanted to ask you is, you preempted it a little bit, but are you comfortable with the extra demands being placed on you, the extra media attention and perhaps now being someone as a man to beat when they go to these tournaments?
FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Yeah, I think I am comfortable. Like I said, I needed to adapt. Last year it wasn't -- it's not something that I've been doing all my life, so I had to get used to it and I think that's why after The Open Championship until the Ryder Cup I didn't play probably my best golf, just because it was a lot all of a sudden and it takes energy from you, so you need to get used to it and learn how to manage your time better and that was part of it. I think hopefully now I'm -- I've done it last year, so now I should be ready for it and the people around me, as well, should be more ready for it and we'll see what happens this year.

Q. You talked about the slow start until winning last week. Just given the amazing year that you had last year, was it important to win this year? Back it up would be kind of an American phrase, I guess, but if you know what I'm getting at.
FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I guess it was important for outside the team. I think it was very important, yes. Obviously everyone kept asking me, how are you going to follow-up last year, how are you going to follow-up last year and winning this and winning that. But inside the team I think it wasn't so vital. Obviously it's nice to see results, but it was just more about keeping on the same path, keeping what we were saying about Dave before and it includes all the rest of the team, just keep improving from every side, and as long as we saw some improvement in my strength, in my iron play, in my, it can be thousands of different things, we would have been happy. Sometimes the improvements don't immediately get followed by the results, so we weren't expecting results for sure, but obviously it's a nice bonus to get them straightaway.

Q. How much time do you spend working on your strengths compared with working on your weaknesses? Assuming you have a weakness.
FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Pizza. No. Yeah, we, I spend more or less the same amount of time. Like we don't really speak about strengths and weaknesses. It's just obviously opportunities to get better, and you have opportunities to get better in things that you already do well and in things that you don't do so well. But I think it's important to kind of work on everything. It's not one or the other, it's just getting better at every single aspect.

Q. I had another little off topic. Have you seen the trophy?

Q. The one for this week.

Q. Okay. Well, it's gold. I was curious of the eight trophies you have, do you have any gold trophies? Everything's silver, it seems like. And don't mention that one in October. That's a sore subject over here.
FRANCESCO MOLINARI: I need to think about it. No, yeah, I think the October one, but I won't mention it then.

MARK WILLIAMS: Francesco, we appreciate your time. Good luck this week.

FRANCESCO MOLINARI: Thank you. Thanks.

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