Francesco Molinari makes U.S. Open cut thanks to hole-in-one

June 14, 2024, 10:09 PM

PINEHURST, N.C. --  Francesco Molinari hasn't been in the spotlight since the 2019 Masters. But in the late hours of Friday afternoon on a far corner of Pinehurst No. 2, Molinari thrust himself back into the consciousness of the golf world.

Sitting at 7-over and two shots outside the then-projected cut line, the 41-year-old Italian stepped up to his final hole of the day -- the 194-yard, par-3 ninth -- took out his 7-iron and sent up a prayer.

The ball landed just over the front greenside bunker and bounded forward. As Molinari watched it roll, he knew it would break left toward the hole, and once it did and trickled in for an ace, Molinari's hands dropped to his knees in disbelief. He needed a hole-in-one to play on the weekend, and he had gotten just that.

"What are the chances really?" Molinari, the 2018 Open Championship winner, said. "I don't even know what to say. Just incredible."

Just a day before, Molinari had tripled that very same hole on his way to an opening 73. After the ace, he finished with a 72, arguably the most memorable 72 of his career.

"It was the last chance to have a chance to play the weekend," Molinari said. "I saw we were still 61st, so hopefully we can sneak in the cut. That's golf in a nutshell."

Molinari said he was hoping to par the eighth hole and make a birdie on the ninth to give himself a shot at making the weekend. But after bogeying the eighth, he felt his chances were all but gone. Still, he said he wanted to "put a good swing on it and see what happens."

"But the chances are incredibly small," Molinari said. "So I don't know what to say."

Since the 2019 Masters, where he was in contention on the back nine before finishing T-5 behind winner Tiger Woods, Molinari has missed nine cuts in 15 major appearances. And over the last three years, he's missed seven cuts in nine major starts.

Molinari's ace on the ninth hole was not the only one of the day. Sepp Straka also made one, and it gave Pinehurst No. 2 a second ace in one day after it had taken 6,089 attempts to get two aces before Friday.

When asked how many aces he has had in his career before Friday's, Molinari couldn't give an answer.

"You guys need to check for me," Molinari said. "I would guess seven maybe, but I'm completely guessing. I don't know."

No matter the number, it's safe to say he will always remember this one.