PARIS (Reuters) - Italian Francesco Molinari sparked wild celebrations as his record-breaking 4&2 win over Phil Mickelson put the rubber-stamp on Europe’s Ryder Cup victory over the United States on Sunday.
On an electrifying afternoon at Le Golf National south west of Paris, Molinari was rock steady as he completed a comfortable victory with a birdie on the 16th green.
He is the first European player ever to score maximum five points in the Ryder Cup and only the second since Europe combined to take on the Americans.
American Larry Nelson also did it in 1979.
His incredible weekend comes just over two months after the 35-year-old became the first Italian player to win a major with his triumph at the British Open in Carnoustie.
“It means so much more than majors, more than anything,” Molinari said as he was swamped by yellow and blue clad fans.
“It’s hard not to get emotional when you think about the other players, the vice captains, Thomas (Bjorn), the wives.
“It’s been an incredible week. Obviously they had probably the strongest team ever and were just so good.”
Europe’s victory was already assured even before five-times major champion Mickelson offered his hand to concede on the 16th green. But that moment sparked scenes of pure delirium as hundreds of fans wedged in around the sun-bathed green danced in delight and sprayed beer into the air.
Molinari had never won a Ryder Cup point in his two previous appearances in 2010 and 2012 but formed a superb partnership with England’s Tommy Fleetwood here at Le Golf National.
They won all four matches they played together over the weekend, including three victories over 14-times major champion Tiger Woods. The duo, already nicknamed “Molliwood”, are the first European twosome to sweep all four pairs matches they played.
“Obviously I had an amazing partner in Tommy. Never felt like I had a rookie playing alongside me,” Molinari said.
“It’s been amazing, and today, it was just hard to get the energy. It’s been a long week, playing five matches, but you know, again, I stepped it up when I had to.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge