Fri, 24 Jan 2020

Portrush - Francesco Molinari said the tame nature of his Open Championship title defence at Royal Portrush this week was "bittersweet", after carding a third-round 72 to slip 10 shots adrift of the leaders.

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The Italian came into the week with high hopes of becoming the first player to defend the Claret Jug successfully since Padraig Harrington in 2008, but has not got out of second gear in Northern Ireland.

"Obviously I would have liked to have a better defence of my title, but at the same time you realise that you don't have the trophy but your name is still going to be on it," he said.

"So, bittersweet for now, that's all I can think."

Molinari had led the Masters heading into the final round in April earlier this year before being usurped by a resurgent Tiger Woods.

And he admitted the extra expectations may have held him back.

"I put too much pressure on me, especially the first day. But it's understandable," added the world No 7.

"It's not easy, obviously, especially the first time and having played well in other majors this year, obviously you come in with the high expectations.

"But you've seen it with Rory (McIlroy) and other guys. Golf is a funny game."

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