Open champ Francesco Molinari to focus on PGA Tour over European circuit in 2019

December 26, 2018

Warren Little/R&A

European Tour CEO Keith Pelley already had to take an emergency flight to beg Rory McIlroy to play four European Tour events next season. Now a new problem is on Pelley's plate.

According to the Associated Press, Francesco Molinari, who finished first on the European Tour's Race to Dubai points race, plans to spend next season playing in the United States.

Molinari enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2018, winning the Open Championship, along with the BMW PGA Championship, the Euro circuit's flagship event. He also led the European team with a peerless 5-0 record at the Ryder Cup. However, the temptation of bigger purses on the PGA Tour and changes to both tours' schedules has made the 36-year-old, who is based in London, look towards America.

That means Molinari might not make his first European start until his claret jug title defense in July. The AP reports Molinari could also possibly skip the British Masters, run this year by his Ryder Cup teammate and friend Tommy Fleetwood.

“I would like to play the British Masters but it depends probably on the first couple of months of the season,” Molinari said. “If I learnt one thing this season, it is to be a bit flexible with the schedule playing two tours.

“With the changes, it is a bit different. Wentworth was always the first for me but now it has moved from May to September, that might be the first regular European Tour event I play."

Molinari, who also won the Quicken Loans National last summer, has averaged 20 appearances on the PGA Tour the last two seasons. He finished 17th in the FedEx Cup standings in 2018.