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Italy’s Man In A Hurry Throttles Back

by Lewine Mair - June 12, 2017

Renato Paratore, who won the Nordea Masters in Sweden two Sundays ago, had to learn to slow down when he arrived on tour in 2015. It was as tough an ask for him as it is for the average professional to pick up speed.

All his amateur days, the now 20-year-old Italian had played at a rate to suggest that there was something requiring his urgent attention after he had holed his last putt. Yet it was not until the 2013 Amateur Championship at Royal Cinque Ports that this intriguing state of affairs first came to light in the UK.

After nine holes of Paratore’s quarter-final with Iceland’s Haraldur Franklin Magnus, the accompanying R&A referee had just about enough breath to report that his pair were a mind-boggling 28 minutes ahead of schedule. In other words, they had taken an hour and 20 minutes for the first half.

That same week, there was the suggestion that the R&A should seize on Paratore as some kind of fast-play ambassador. With Paul Lawrie having said much the same again in The Scotsman last week, it could yet happen. To quote Lawrie, “The game should be using him … to show how golf used to be played before pre-shot routines and all sorts of shenanigans for lining up putts crept into the sport.”

When Matteo Manassero, Paratore’s great friend and mentor, heard how Renato’s speed had created such a stir at Royal Cinque Ports, he was more than a tad bemused. “He’s going to have to slow down,” said this four-time European Tour winner. “You would go mad if you tried to play at Renato’s pace out here. You can’t have a situation where you take three seconds to hit a shot and your playing companion is taking 45.”

So how did Paratore stop breaking the unofficial speed limit?

Not as you might think. He decided against any kind of pre-shot waggle or the introduction of a few practice swings. There is the odd occasion when he will have one practice swing but, since his overall theory is that your first swing is usually your best, he doubts whether there is any point in wasting it on a practice edition.

Rather did he decide to hang back before selecting his club – and to while away the seconds by chatting with his caddie. Then, when the moment is right, he steps up to the ball and does as he has always done in giving it an uninhibited whack.

All of the above is now automatic, while the player has simultaneously stopped concerning himself with the speed of others: “There are some players who go a bit slow but they’re all going quicker than they did, so it’s better.”

Yet there is good reason why Renato Paratore still comes across as a man in a hurry.

In 2022, the Ryder Cup is to be played at Marco Simone, a course only 20 minutes from Paratore’s family house. Though the venue will be given a complete revamp ahead of the match, it is one where he always has felt thoroughly at home. He played there on a regular basis during a junior career in which he was chosen for two Junior Ryder Cups and won the gold medal at the Youth Olympics in China.

Italy longs to have some of its own doing duty for Europe in ’22 and they are certainly going the right way about it.

Like many of the other golfing Continentals, Italians tend to bring the best in each other and, for them, it began with Costantino Rocca. When Rocca, who defeated Tiger Woods in the singles in the 1997 Ryder Cup, brought his illustrious career to an end at the 2015 Italian Open, he said, “This is the last time I’ll play because the younger ones are so strong. I like to watch them; I’m not jealous.”

No-one was prouder than he was when the Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco, won the 2009 World Cup and went on to help Europe to victory in the 2010 Ryder Cup.

Just as Rocca served as their mentor, so the Molinaris watched out for Manassero, treating him as family when he first arrived on tour. Manassero then took Paratore under his wing after Paratore did as he did in qualifying for the European Tour at 17. He travelled with the teenager in his early days on tour and, typically, was following him for the last few holes of the Nordea Masters.

Nor is it just the Italian players who are so supportive of each other. The same applies with the Italian media and the fans.

Far from waiting to pounce on their heroes’ poorer performances, writers and public alike furnish a non-stop flow of affectionate admiration.

It goes without saying that, in the wake of Edoardo Molinari’s victory in Morocco in April and Paratore’s exploits in Sweden, the Italians’ excitement is already beginning to build for Marco Simone.

They may be getting a bit ahead of themselves but Paratore, for one, is not about to tell them to slow down. “Everyone’s happy and that’s why we do well.”


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