By Tony Jimenez
DUBAI (Reuters) - Edoardo Molinari has been pounding the ball into the Arabian night sky in a bid to regain the form that earned him a 2010 Ryder Cup debut and the extra work paid off when he shot a 68 in the Dubai World Championship Saturday.
The Italian enjoyed a purple patch of form last year, winning two lucrative European Tour events in Scotland and playing alongside his brother Francesco in the triumphant Ryder Cup team in Wales in October.
Molinari, though, has struggled badly in recent months, plunging from 14th to 63rd in the world rankings in just over a year.
"I've been working on a couple of technical things on the range here," he told Reuters after his four-under effort gave him a four-under total of 212 in the $7.5 million season finale.
"I've been hitting balls in complete darkness the last two evenings, just me and my caddie, and I know what I have to do to get better.
"It's just a matter of doing it on the practice range and then on the course. I know I have to do it over and over again until I feel confident."
Molinari's game has not been helped in recent weeks by the return of an old hand injury.
"I had tendonitis a few years ago and when I spend a lot of time on the range like I've done recently it flares up again," said the 30-year-old from Turin.
"I'm going to have a scan next week to see exactly what the problem is and hopefully sort it out in time for next month's Abu Dhabi Championship."
Molinari, who won last year's Scottish Open and Johnnie Walker Championship, said his game reached rock bottom two days ago.
"Today compared to Thursday was an unbelievable difference," said the stubble-chinned Italian. "My first nine holes here were probably the worst I've played in the last four or five years.
"The problems have been mainly off the tee. To play well in a big tournament like this you need to have your game in good shape and obviously the first two rounds it wasn't there.
"But I did see signs of improvement over the last nine holes yesterday and today was a big step forward."
Molinari, who produced an unforgettable dance of delight on the final green when he and his brother teamed up to win the 2009 World Cup for their country, said he was determined to remove the demons from his game.
"I haven't played as well as I expected this season, or as well as other people expected me to," he said. "Unfortunately it happens in golf, it's quite difficult to be consistent week in week out.
"But I know what's been wrong and I'll be working hard this winter in order to play as good as I did the last couple of years. It's been quite disappointing but I'm the first one to know and the first one to realize it.
"It's just a matter of striving hard and finding a good swing again and some good results will come."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)