Molinari challenges McIlroy to ward off crisis

Francesco Molinari is gearing up for another shot at redemption

by Andrea Gussoni
Molinari challenges McIlroy to ward off crisis
© Getty Images Sport - Octavio Passos / Stringer

Francesco Molinari is gearing up for another shot at redemption. Following his missed cut at the Mexico Open, marking his eighth missed cut in the last nine tournaments played, the Turin native is preparing to return to action on the PGA Tour.

From February 29th to March 3rd in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, he will be among the 144 competitors at the Cognizant Classic, a tournament founded in 1972 and formerly known until last year as The Honda Classic. The event will take place at the PGA National Resort (The Champion) and will offer a purse of $9,000,000, with $1,620,000 going to the winner.

It marks the first leg of the "Florida Swing," which will also include the Arnold Palmer Invitational (March 7-10) and The Players Championship (March 14-17), both events won by Rory McIlroy. The world number 2, a star of the competition alongside Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick (the only two from the world's Top 10 in the field), will return to play at the PGA National Resort for the first time since 2018.

Francesco Molinari, results

Having won this tournament in 2012, he has just secured victory at "The Match," a mixed charity showcase played in West Palm Beach. On the other hand, Chris Kirk will be defending his title. The American edged out compatriot Eric Cole by one stroke in 2023, who already boasts five Top 25 finishes in 2024.

Following his surprising performance last week in Mexico, another American, Jake Knapp, a former nightclub bouncer, will be chasing another feat. Among the pre-tournament favorites, in addition to those already mentioned, are South Korean Byeong Hun An, Austrian Sepp Straka (winner in 2022), Irishman Shane Lowry, Englishman Justin Rose, Dane Rasmus Hojgaard, Taiwanese Pan Cheng-tsung, South African Erik Van Rooyen, German Stephan Jaeger, Canadian Corey Conners, Scotsman Robert MacIntyre, and other Americans such as Keith Mitchell (winner in 2019), Cameron Young, Russell Henley, Billy Horschel, Matt Kuchar, Lucas Glover, Justin Lower, Daniel Berger, and Rickie Fowler (who claimed victory in 2017).

Francesco Molinari