Monday

Francesco Molinari's Cool Tramples Italian Stereotypes

.
The stereotypes are well known, thanks to myriad films and a host of television shows.  

They suggest that Italians are overly-emotional, ultra-demonstrative and flamboyantly melodramatic; likely to celebrate the smallest victory with a conspicuous show of bravado... and just as likely to melt down at the mere hint of defeat.

Francesco Molinari didn't get much of chance to disprove the cliche about defeat at WGC-HSBC Championship... he spent the entire weekend in the lead, culminating in a bogey-free final round yesterday.  However,  he sure put a dent in the myth of the Italian drama llama

The younger Molinari brother... today's his 28th birthday... won the tournament in an amazing battle with world number one,  Lee Westwood,  and he did so without so much as a vigorous fist pump.

Westwood kept the pressure on throughout, too... till the bitter end... matching Molinari's score yesterday, with a bogey-free 67 of his own.  But the Italian hardly seemed to notice as he pressed on calmly.  Not everyone appreciated the supreme Molinari cool.  At the par four 13th hole on Saturday,   he used his seven-iron from 155 yards out and ended up in the hole for an eagle two.  His reaction to the feat was understated to say the least, provoking Shane Bacon, (one of my all-time favorite golf writers to tweet), "Does no PGA Tour player celebrate hole outs anymore? Francesco Molinari just looked like someone gave him a toothpick, not an eagle." 

Then there was the post at sports betting blog, SportsUntapped.com, entitled Success for Francesco Molinari is Bad for Golf.  There the premise was that Molinari's lack of visible emotion made his spectacular game quite dull, and added to golf's reputation as a most boring sport.  The day's trophy winner was then equated with a zombie.

Of course Mr. Molinari isn't the first golf champion to be criticized for not being responsive enough.  I've heard people say Cristie Kerr is "too focused" ... and prior to his scandal, Tiger Woods was often described as boring and robotic. But they're not Italian.

Italian golf champion Constantino Rocca's awesome celebration of the 65-foot birdie put that forced an Open Championship play off with John Daly in 1995 is remembered as one of the most memorable displays of emotion in golf history,  and perhaps there was an expectation that Mr. Molinari's "Italian demonstrativeness" would light up the course as he battled towards his first European Tour win since the 2006 Italian Open.  Instead his superlative golf that did... without so much as a double fist pump, a high five or a "Boom Baby" to mark the high points.

Stereotypes, one must remember, are just standardized, simplified generalizations about certain groups of people, based on prior assumptions.  In the same way Irish aren't all big drinkers, Blondes aren't uniformly dumb and cops don't always like doughnuts,  Italians can be very reserved on the golf course.  Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing the understated Mr. Molinari win again soon.

Photos: Getty Images