The last time Francesco Molinari played a Ryder Cup-golf, he ended up as an unlikely hero in Team Europe's "Miracle of Medinah." Now, six years later, he finds he entered the competition this year, starting Friday at Le Golf National in France, as the main standard bearer for European hope.
Molinari is the top player in the European Ryder Cup rankings and after a number of strong finishes this year he is currently one of the most anxiously consistent golfers in the world. He won the BMW PGA tournament on the European tour this spring, won the Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour and then covered his surge with his first major when he captured the British Open in July.
It & # 39; s was a remarkable increase that few had predicted.
It took Molinari 10 years to win four victories on the European Tour before 2018. This summer, he went on a run in which he won three of the six consecutive tournaments, and finished second in two of them.
Thomas Bjorn, the European team captain, told journalists at the end of that run: "He has reached in two months what most European golfers want to achieve in a career, he won the BMW PGA, he won America and then the Claret Jug It's quite special. "
Molinari attributes his new consistency to" ugly work "with Denis Pugh, his old coach, Dave Alred, his performance coach, and Phil Kenyon, his putting coach. The approach emphasizes repetitive exercises, especially around the greens, where Alred Molinari's psychological arsenal builds by not giving him the opportunity to make unpleasant shots until the exercise has been successful.
Bjorn said that Molinari "just goes through his business, does it quietly, easily" and named him ", one of the hard workers and good of the Tour."
Where Molinari has always had a strong long race, the improvement in his short play and calm this year has taken him to a new level. The success of Molinari has perhaps also put him on a new confrontation with Tiger Woods, who in 2018 played a "trending" form and won the Tour Championship on Sunday.
The two played in singles in the 2010 Ryder Cup, with Woods winning, 4 & 3.
In 2012 in Medina, Illinois, Team Europe was 10 – 6 cases and entered the final matchday of singles, with Woods and Molinari in the final tie. The European players won after match, even with the team from the United States. A Woods victory would only have linked the overall scores and ensured that the trophy stayed with the European players, but Molinari managed to win a half for a European victory.
No player has appeared in a Ryder Cup since, and for long periods since 2012 it seemed unlikely that they would. Until the end of last year Molinari seemed to be working on the modest goals of keeping his tour, and Woods recovered from injuries and personal problems.
The two have established paths this year, with Woods – as host of the tournament – presenting the Quicken Loans National trophy to Molinari on July 1, then playing in the last round pairing with Molinari while the Italian won the British Open a few weeks later.
Pugh described the symbolic meaning of Molinari playing that final round with Woods.
"Tiger 10 years ago would have been a much more difficult proposition, but even now the crowds are following him because he is the headman," Pugh said. "You have to accept that.
" I think he is the best golfer that ever lived, and I think it was best for Francesco to play so well, to win the Claret Jug for him . He signed the card by Tiger Woods. That's an extra bit of polish. "
Molinari's first major breakthrough marks the last time he is hit by a star by Woods or another player, and Team Europe expects that he will be the star this weekend.