Francesco Molinari was one of several high-profile European players who chose not to return to the United States for the resumption of the PGA Tour due to lengthy quarantine measures on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Ironically, it has been the down time during the coronavirus pandemic that directly led to Molinari and his family deciding to relocate to California.
The Italian-born Molinari, the 2018 Open champion, has lived in London for the past 11 years but has primarily played on the PGA Tour since 2015. He also often crafts his schedule around the West Coast swing early in the year.
In a Twitter post on Thursday, Molinari announced his intention to relocate to California, with next month’s PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco his targeted first event back in competition.
“It’s been a very strange few months for everyone lately, facing challenges that we never even thought possible,” he wrote. “As many of my colleagues, this forced break gave a chance to sit back and think about many things.
“It mostly made me think about the future and what I want to achieve in the coming years, from a professional point of view but mostly from a family standpoint.”
“This is why we’ve decided to leave London and the UK after 11 happy, intense, satisfying and consuming years.
Molinari, 37, rose as high as No. 5 in the world but has struggled since winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March 2019. He squandered a lead on the back nine on Sunday at The Masters the following month, helping set the stage for Tiger Woods’ dramatic victory.
It also set the stage for Molinari’s struggles, as he has not posted a top 10 in 18 worldwide starts since.
“The next chapter of our life is going to be in California, where we hope to be safe, happy and to spend more time together as a family,” Molinari wrote Thursday. “This is what’s keeping me busy now and away from tournament golf, the hope is to be back for the US PGA in August.”
Molinari switched coaches last October, but has yet to regain his form. He has fallen all the way to 30th in the world, missing his first three cuts on the PGA Tour this season – all in California.
Molinari tied for 53rd at the WGC-Mexico Championship and later pulled out of Bay Hill citing a back injury. He did play the first round of The Players Championship before the event was canceled amid the virus outbreak.
After his victory at the Open, Molinari helped lead Team Europe to a resounding upset in the Ryder Cup that fall. He and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood earned the moniker “Moli-Wood” as Molinari went undefeated during the competition.
Fleetwood responded to Molinari’s announcement on Thursday with a tweet including five sad emoji faces and writing, “but you said you’d never leave me!!!!”
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)