SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES – Francesco Molinari finished off a memorable weekend by becoming the first European player to win all five of his matches at a Ryder Cup on Sunday.
The British Open champion eased to a 4 and 2 victory over an out-of-sorts Phil Mickelson to secure the hosts the trophy at Le Golf National with a dominant performance.
After Ian Poulter's dramatic 2-up win against world number one Dustin Johnson, Molinari ensured a crushing triumph for Europe.
The Italian and Tommy Fleetwood had become the first European pairing to win four matches from four on Saturday.
English rookie Fleetwood was beaten by Tony Finau in Sunday's singles, but Molinari took his chance to make history against the erratic Mickelson.
“I just try to do things, be professional and obviously I had an amazing partner in Tommy,” he said. “Never felt like I had a rookie playing alongside me. It's been amazing.”
Molinari is the first player from either side to claim five points at a Ryder Cup since the USA's Larry Nelson in 1979.
Thomas Bjorn's men gained revenge for their defeat at Hazeltine two years ago, sending the United States to a sixth straight loss on European soil dating back to 1993.
Molinari, who has enjoyed a remarkable season, said that winning the Ryder Cup back meant more than anything else, including his maiden major title at Carnoustie in July.
“So much, so much more than majors, more than anything,” he added.
“You know, it's hard not to get emotional when you think about the other players, the vice captains, Thomas, the wives. It's been an incredible week.”
The 35-year-old had never won a full point from his two previous Ryder Cup appearances in 2010 and 2012, but he has now been part of three winning teams, and he said this was the best outfit of the lot.
“I said it at the beginning of the week, we gelled as well as ever and just incredible,” said Molinari. “It's been the best I've been a part of.”
Fleetwood failed to fire in the singles as he ran into a red-hot Finau, slipping to a 6 and 4 loss, but he was one of the first players to join the jubilant celebrations and was full of praise for his partner on Friday and Saturday.
“He's unbelievable. He's gone 5-0 in a Ryder Cup,” he said of Molinari.
“I don't know how often that's been done or if it's ever been done, but that guy is one good golfer, and you know, he deserves all the credit he gets and I think it was very fitting that he got the winning shot.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)