For two days were Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari as inseparable as Holmes and Watson (Sherlock and the doctor, not JB and Bubba), but it was the quiet Italian who bravely threw himself in the ninth singles match on Sunday to Ryder. Create headline history in its dignified and irresistible way.
His 4 & 2 dismantling of Phil Mickelson was his fifth victory of the 42nd edition of the competition, after four with Fleetwood in the four balls and fourteen. It attracted him with the Americans Arnold Palmer and Gardner Dickinson (1967) and Larry Nelson (1979) by completing an overview of all of his matches – and that in the summer when he won the Open in Carnoustie. The only thing that could exceed this highlight would be Molinari – born in Turin and a bona fide Londoner for years – to repeat the double in 2022, when the Ryder Cup goes to Italy for the first time, at the Marco Simone Golf Club Rome.
During the Albatros course on Sunday afternoon for a blue sky, he went after four and two consecutively and never looked back. He played with the same amount of poignant concentration as Tiger Woods on their Sunday lines to the row at the Open two months ago. He also joined Mickelson in the final phase of 18 when American 66 won at Muirfield in 2013. He was not a spectator this time.
Since then, a lot of water has spread over this more scattered track outside Versailles, and many players have seen their shots. The only time Molinari got wet was under the haze of the party champagne that his teammates at the end threw on his head. As a supporter of West Ham he could not be so familiar with the sensation, although the day before he was supported by their victory over Manchester United.
However, his own firm hand did not deliver the dagger, but came through the quivering jaws of Mickelson, who drowned his ball on the par-three 16th of the tee. It was perhaps the last recording of the 12-man performances of the 48-year-old American in the competition.
For Molinari was part of a third Ryder Cup winning team "so much more than majors, more than anything else". He added: "It is difficult not to become emotional when you think of the other players, the vice-captains, Thomas [Bjørn], the women. It was an incredible week. & # 39;
As far as his long-haired friend is concerned, Molinari said: "I had a great partner in Tommy, I never felt like a newcomer was playing next to me."
By escorting Europe to their sixth homecoming, Molinari added the trophies he shared with the winning teams of 2010 and 2012. And, however influential he was at Le Golf National, he did not betray triumphalism. He represented everything that is good in team sports – and if politics could go astray in the discussion – the ethics of solidarity in Europe that the Ryder Cup has stood for for a quarter of a century.
Molinari expressed as much joy for the combined success of his own campaign as for Fleetwood, who defeated Tony Finau, another debutant, 6 & 4. Fleetwood, the exuberant free-hitter from Southport, reached an unprecedented fifth victory at the debut, but the weight of history seemed to lie on his rounded shoulders.
Enthusiasm, nerves, or both, may have struck him in the first hole, when a container of a greenside bunker dribbled above the hole in the liquor and he never recovered properly. The Cup was technically out of the reach of the American team a few moments before Mickelson's slam-dunk-splash, when he and Watson had missed putts, but those Europeans who still did not fight on the golf course quickly accumulated the 16th to lift Molinari skyward. Tony Jacklin, who is aware of these things, said that Molinari and Fleetwood (immortalized as Moliwood) reminded him of the great Spanish link between Seve Ballesteros and José María Olazábal, who did wonders for him in the 1980s. They have certainly clicked as good friends, they are away from the job, each with their own hinterland.
Maybe they can find it so well with each other, because they are essentially different. Fleetwood is as cozy and outgoing as Molinari is shy and retires. When the job was done, Fleetwood defeated his defeat and ran to the fans who were fond of his boyish lightheartedness. He would celebrate it with his wife, Clare, 20 years older than him, and their one-year-old son, Frankie. The wife of Molinari, Valentina, although not the greatest lover of the game, arrived from their home in London with their two children, Tommaso and Emma, to witness the best moment of Francesco.
As partners Molinari and Fleetwood were blessed synchronicity. For Molinari alone, it was heaven. This should be remembered long as Molinari's Cup – an idea that would appreciate one of the most self-effacing players in the game.