Nods of recognition from all club golfers as Francesco Molinari tops opening tee shot

Fans of the Italian had presumed there was a glitch on Shot Tracker when they saw details of his opening drive at Pebble Beach on Saturday

We've all been there.

It's cold, it's early, your hands haven't really warmed up. Your body, shall we say, isn't quite in competition mode.

But while the first-tee duff is a staple for most of us, you don't expect to see it from an Open champion.

Francesco Molinari was going nicely at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He'd opened with rounds of 69 and 70 to move into the top 20 with 36 holes to play. All looked set for a weekend challenge.

Then this happened!

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Molinari was a well-backed 25/1 chance before the tournament. And plenty of those with cash on him were following his early progress on the PGA Tour's Shot Tracker.

But a few refreshes of the page shortly after his tee-time revealed this: Shot 1 70yds to primary rough, 302 yards to hole.

The Shot Tracker service is hugely popular but it's not without the odd glitch. Surely this was one of those input errors.

However, the 'error' didn't seem to get corrected as he continued the hole. All a bit odd.

Then footage emerged of Molinari doing what didn't seem possible for a player of his calibre. Yep, he'd only gone and topped it like a 24-handicapper.

After finding sand with his third, the Carnoustie 2018 Open hero got up and down for bogey.

More calamity for Molinari at No.2

At the Par-5 2nd hole, he took five shots after another trip to a bunker but that wasn't the end of it. Molinari was then handed a two-stroke penalty when his caddie stood on an extension of his line of play directly behind him. That's a Rule 10.2b/4 offence. That's not good news. A par had turned into a double bogey.

This is where the hacker decides it's not their day. The mood darkens and thoughts of helicoptering a club towards a tree have to be suppressed.

But after that bogey-double bogey start, Molinari's card instead shows a birdie on his very next hole. And that's why he's different to most of us. We stew and let it linger; he plays the next hole in front of him and draws a line under what's happened previously.

In the end, a couple more bogeys and seven closing pars meant he lost touch with the leaders. But at least he could laugh about it later.

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Shortly after his round Molinari took to Twitter and posted a video of a genuine hacker taking a huge chunk out of the first tee, adding with a self-deprecating wink: "Anyone seen anything interesting today?"

Francesco Molinari - a man of the people.

  • Molinari tees off in the final round at Pebble Beach alongside Americans Patton Kizzire and Wes Roach. The trio set out at 09:45 local time. He's 1-under for the tournament (T53), 12 shots behind leader Jordan Spieth.

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