Ryder Cup: Modest Francesco Molinari plays down five out of five role
Francesco Molinari, the star of the show, refused to accept any individual plaudits after leading Europe to victory in the 42nd Ryder Cup in France.
The Italian became the first European player in the event’s history to claim five points out of five as he beat Rickie Fowler in the last-day singles at Le Golf National near Paris.
Fittingly, it was Molinari who claimed the winning point as Thomas Bjorn’s team upset the odds against a star-studded US team with a resounding 17.5-10.5 victory.
It had already been a year to remember, of course, for Molinari after he won the Open Championship at Carnoustie in July - the first Italian to become a major champion.
Typically, though, the modest Molinari was more interested in talking about his team’s success than his own personal achievement here.
“I’m just so proud of every one of these guys. You can’t even imagine. You could see on Monday when we got together, it wasn’t ending up any other way,” he said.
“I’ve been part of another two winning teams (at Celtic Manor and Medinah in 2010 and 2012) where I didn’t bring full points, and I’m glad after I’ve been carried on the shoulders by some of these guys to give something back.
“But it’s about every one of these guys, the vice captains, it’s just the best team I’ve ever been part of by miles.
“My summer has been great, but it’s been about these guys. My record was pretty shocking, really, coming into this week. So statistically, there was a good chance of winning some points (laughing).
“I honestly don’t feel any difference bringing five points or one point or half a point like I did in Wales or in Medinah.
“I said it yesterday when they were asking me and Tommy [Fleetwood] about winning four out of four, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win the Cup. That’s what this team is about, and I think honestly, that’s what makes the difference.”
Sergio Garcia also ended the match as a record-breaker, his 2&1 singles success over Rickie Fowler taking his points tally in the event to 24.5 points - the most recorded by any player, European or American. Claiming that from Nick Faldo proved extra special for the Spaniard after he vindicated the faith Bjorn had shown by picking him despite being out of form for most of the season, missing the cut in all four majors.
“What a week,” admitted “El Nino”. “It’s been a rough year. Obviously, I’m so thankful for Thomas to pick me and believe in me and so happy to get the Cup back here in Paris and in Europe and for everyone to enjoy it as much as they did.
“It (the record) means a lot but, at the end of the day and I’ve always said it, it’s about the team and I’m happy that I was able to help. I’m happy that I was able to help with some of the points. It’s a bonus. It’s something that I never thought I would have the possibility of doing it, and now that it’s happened. These guys are unbelievable.
“The crowds were amazing. They always are but it was just unbelievable how supportive they were here. I’ve never had so many big cheers like I’ve had this week. It was amazing, and I’m just really happy that they get to celebrate now.”
This was Garcia’s eighth appearance and he said of the winning line up: “It was a hell of a team. I think that a lot of people thought that the Ryder Cup was over before it was played and I guess unfortunately they picked the wrong team (by tipping the Americans to win).”
Results, Singles: Rory McIlroy (NIrl) lost to Justin Thomas (USA) 1 down; Paul Casey (Eng) halved with Brooks Koepka (USA); Justin Rose (Eng) lost to Webb Simpson (USA) 3 & 2; Jon Rahm (Spa) bt Tiger Woods (USA) 2 & 1; Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) lost to Tony Finau (USA) 6 & 4; Ian Poulter (Eng) bt Dustin Johnson (USA) 2 up; Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) bt Jordan Spieth (USA) 5 & 4; Sergio Garcia (Spa) bt Rickie Fowler (USA) 2 & 1; Francesco Molinari (Ita) bt Phil Mickleson (USA) 4 & 2; Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) lost to Patrick Reed (USA) 3 & 2; Henrik Stenson (Swe) bt Bubba Watson (USA) 5 & 4; Alex Noren (Swe) bt Bryson Dechambeau (USA) 1 up. Europe bt USA 17.5 10.5