The coronavirus is no laughing matter, something Edoardo Molinari found out the hard way last week prior to the European Tour's Oman Open. Knowing a sibling is coming unglued over something out of their control, however, is always funny. So you'll have to forgive Francesco Molinari getting in a laugh at his brother's expense.
For those who missed it, Edoardo was one of two European Tour pros who were quarantined last Wednesday over fears they had contracted the virus. The other was Lorenzo Gagli, who had been exhibiting flu-like symptoms and examined by the tournament's medical staff. Both players are from Italy, where the number of cases grow by the day, and they happened to be sharing a hotel room. Neither Molinari or Gagli were thrilled with the decision, but the precautionary measures taken by the European Tour were understandable.
Fortunately, Gagli's tests came back negative, and the European Tour reinstated both players and sent them off in a twosome in the opening round. This was particularly beneficial for Gagli, who finished in a tie for 10th. Molinari tied for 50th.
Francesco understands the gravity of the situation in their home country, but he couldn't help but chuckle when he thought about what his brother was going through. He explained why on Tuesday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where he is the defending champion.
"I was laughing, actually," said the 2018 Open champion. "If you know my brother, of all people, for it to happen to him, I don't know, yeah, I just found it a little bit funny at the beginning. But then, obviously, I spoke to him and he was, I would say, more annoyed than scared because he was feeling well. He had no symptoms. But, yeah, joking aside, obviously being Italian it's not a great time back home with the health situation and I don't know, hopefully they can get it sorted somehow quickly."
That's the brother-brother relationship summed up right there. Francesco expanded on the coronavirus matter later in the press conference.
"I know as much as you, if not less, to be honest. We just follow, obviously, the directions that we're given by the tour. So far, luckily, it doesn't seem to have an impact on us directly. But, yeah, like I said, the first person -- I wasn't in Italy last week -- but I was obviously reading the news and they cancelled football games, soccer games, which are huge over there and closed school, so it's definitely having an impact there. Hopefully it won't get to that stage over here."
So far it hasn't, with six reported deaths in the United States versus 52 in Italy. As for precautions being taken by the Tour, the organization released a statement on the coronavirus Monday.
"The PGA TOUR has been closely monitoring all available information related to the continued spread of the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19. We conduct more than 175 tournaments across our six Tours, and the health and safety of our players, employees, fans, partners, volunteers and everyone associated with the PGA TOUR continues to be our No. 1 priority.
"After reviewing the relevant positions from the Centers of Disease Control and the World Health Organization, there are no planned schedule changes beyond what has already been decided with PGA TOUR Series-China (a delay to the start of the season). However, we are establishing additional protocols to promote the health and safety of all participants and fans at our tournaments, and we will regularly review our schedule in light of revised CDC and WHO reports and make any updates as necessary."