Italy’s Giulia Molinaro just missed out on qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica last week and it seems like that close call has put a little fire in the 31-year-old’s belly. She came out swinging in the first round of the Cognizant Founders Cup, carding a 6-under, 66 that saw her notch seven birdies and just a single bogey. It’s her second time going that low at this event – she also shot a 66 in 2017 when the tournament was played in Phoenix, Ariz. – and it’s Giulia’s second 66 of the 2022 season with the last one coming back in March at the Honda LPGA Thailand. To get into the field at the second major of the year, Molinaro would need a victory at the Cognizant Founders Cup and though there is a lot of golf left to play, she’s started off on the right foot.

“Six-under rounds don’t come around often unless you are probably Jin Young Ko, but not all of us are so it’s always a great feeling,” said Molinaro who hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation and eight of 14 fairways on Thursday. “It’s good to see things working and after all the work that you have put in and rounds come together. Three more days, so tomorrow I don’t start from scratch, but that’s the mentality, I believe. Missing the U.S. Open is always a big deal and a bit of a bummer. We did tell each other, my caddie and I, we have one more chance, so let’s see how it goes.”

Molinaro joined the LPGA Tour in 2014 and has only two career top-10s to her credit, including a tie for third at last year’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. So far this season, her best finish is T40 at the Honda LPGA Thailand, and Molinaro is currently ranked 111th in the Race to the CME Globe. In other words, it hasn’t been a hot start to the 2022 season for the Italian, but she’s looking to change that narrative with good play the rest of the week.

“I really hope I keep striking it the way I am,” said Molinaro. “I was very comfortable with my swing today. I obviously was comfortable on the greens because when you shoot such scores, you are obviously putting very well, but I hope I can keep the ball-striking going. I think (Upper Montclair) is a ball-striker’s course so it definitely suits the longer hitter and who is hitting it well that week and that day. Both courses have been incredible. This is an amazing golf course. I love it, and I’m glad that we’re going to be here a few years.”

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