Francesco Molinari’s historic week at Le Golf National was capped by the feat of winning the point that sealed the return of the Ryder Cup, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
There would no comeback. No battle. No miracle. Paris belongs to Europe and to Thomas Bjorn and his team.
Leading 10-6, Europe got off to a good but not perfect start before the red of Team USA started to flood the leaderboard. Justin Thomas prevailed over Rory McIlroy in game one, Tony Finau steamrolled Tommy Fleetwood and four of the top six matches had red.
A lesser side would’ve panicked but not Bjorn’s men. Step up Paul Casey, somewhat controversial captain’s pick, to pinch a half off of Brooks Koepka. He was followed onto the scoreboard by Jon Rahm who claimed the scalp of Tiger Woods. And the big surprise as Thorbjorn Olesen, not seen since losing his Friday fourballs match, delivered an almighty blow with a 5&4 victory over Jordan Spieth.
The ship had been steadied with Bjorn’s most trusted left out on the course to bring the trophy home in style.
Ian Poulter always delivered and this time, he left the 17th green with his unbeaten singles record intact and in the process ended that of Dustin Johnson, who turned in a woeful performance as the world’s best player delivered just a single point. No world number one has contributed so few points since the rankings were introduced in 1986.
With blue now sweeping the board and strangling the life out of the misfiring Americans, two wildcards Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia took control of their matches with Molinari continuing his perfect display.
It was only a matter of time. Stenson thrashed Bubba Watson 5&4 and it was left to Garcia and Molinari to race for the honour of securing the winning point.
Fittingly it was Molinari who landed his tee shot on 16th on the green and was shaking hands on the next shot after Phil Mickelson, rested for the duration of Saturday, dumped his ball into the hazard.
The competition was over and the top-ranked, highly confident Americans banished. For good measure, another of Bjorn’s captain’s picks Garcia downed Rickie Fowler. It was a moment of redemption for the much-criticized Garcia who now holds the esteemed privilege of being Europe’s best ever scorer with 25.5 points.
Relegated into the 10th match, Patrick Reed earned America a win over Tyrrell Hatton and to his credit, showed his lighter side but ssshh’ing the crowd in jest.