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Italy's Molinari making case to return

Saturday, April 09, 2011


AUGUSTA - Edoardo Molinari will likely not win the Masters Tournament, but his third round on Saturday helped his case for coming back to Augusta National Golf Club next year.

Edoardo Molinari shot a 3-under 69 Saturday to move closer to the top 16 and a chance to return in 2012. (Corey Perrine/Staff)

Molinari shot a 3-under-par 69 to move him to 3-under for the tournament. He's now in the mix to finish in the top 16, which would earn him an invitation back to the Masters next year.

"I think the first goal (Sunday) would be to make the top 16 to come back next year," he said.

The 30-year-old Italian started his day with a birdie at the par-5 second hole. He gave the stroke back with a bogey at hole No. 4 but made birdie again on the fifth hole.

After a string of pars, Molinari got on a roll of red numbers. On the par-3 12th hole, he stuck a 9-iron within 3 feet of the pin and tapped in for birdie.

He drew a 3-wood onto the green at the par-5 13th hole and two-putted for another birdie and knocked down a 40-foot putt on hole No. 14 to move to 4-under.

"Unfortunately, I had the poor drive on 15, and I ended up making 6," he said. "Apart from that, it was a great round of golf."

But Molinari also missed several putts inside 15 feet that could have moved him even deeper into contention. Especially on the front nine, he felt he could've gone a lot lower than his 35 had a few putts fallen.

"I was hitting a lot of great golf shots and I was ending up with, like, 10 to 12 feet for birdie that you couldn't tell if they were breaking left or right," he said. "Those are the most difficult putts you can have here. You can't putt them firm because the greens are so quick."

The greens and layout at Augusta National have given Molinari trouble in the past. He missed the cut in his previous two Masters starts, never shooting below 75. Saturday's 69 was his first-ever round in the 60s at Augusta.

Molinari moved up inside the top 50 in the world golf rankings - the top 50 are invited to the Masters Tournament - with two European Tour wins last year, but he wouldn't mind clinching an automatic invite with a strong finish today.

"If I play well enough, it could be a top 10 and we'll see after that," he said. "Who knows."

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