Francesco Molinari played with, and beat Tiger Woods, at the Open and then the Ryder Cup...
The History Of Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari
Francesco Molinari won his first major at the Open Championship in the company of Tiger Woods and has a very long history with the 14-time major winner.
The Italian was paired with Tiger Woods in the final round and despite all of the euphoria surrounding the 14-time major winner, who was leading with eight holes to play, Molinari kept his cool and eventually won by two strokes.
He was then matched up against him three times at the 2018 Ryder Cup and won all three games as he became Europe’s talisman.
Here we look at the history of Woods and Molinari, starting at the 2006 Masters…
The image that has been doing the rounds on social media – Francesco first met Tiger at Augusta in 2006 where he was caddying for his older brother Edoardo. As tradition goes at The Masters, the US Amateur champion plays with the defending champion over the first two days. Edoardo had won the 2005 US Amateur at Merion whilst Woods, highlighted by that famous chip-in, had won the 2005 Masters. Francesco was on the bag of his brother for the opening two days where he missed the cut.
2010 USPGA Championship
Francesco would get his first shot at playing with Tiger Woods over four years on at the 2010 USPGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Molinari was well ahead of Woods for much of the round but finished double-bogey, bogey for a one under par 71. Woods, however, finished birdie, birdie for a 72.
2010 Ryder Cup
The pair met again just a month later at the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in the final day singles. Woods dominated the Italian and beat him 4&3, including a stunning hole-out eagle on the 12th. It wouldn’t matter though, as Graeme McDowell defeated Hunter Mahan to win back the trophy.
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2012 Ryder Cup
At the very next Ryder Cup, Woods and Molinari were once again drawn out against each other in the singles. The match was much closer this time around and went down to the final hole, where Woods conceded a 4 footer and the hole to halve the match and give Europe the winning half point, meaning they had completed one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history having started the day 10-6 behind. It would be known as the ‘Miracle at Medinah’.
2018 Farmers Insurance Open
Woods and Molinari would have to wait over five years to be paired together and this was in Woods’ first full-field PGA Tour event in a year, having been sidelined after a fourth back surgery. Both men were well back of the lead and Molinari shot a two over par 74 whilst Woods carded an even par 72 for a respectable T23rd finish.
2018 Quicken Loans National
Whilst Woods and Molinari didn’t play together at TPC Potomac, the 14-time major winner handed the Italian the trophy after Molinari stream-rolled the field in the event that benefits Woods’ charity. Molinari was in great form having recently won the BMW PGA Championship and shot an eight under par 62 on Sunday to win by eight. It was his first ever PGA Tour victory.
2018 Open Championship
The pair were drawn together in the final round of the Open where both men had great chances at winning the Claret Jug. Woods got the upper hand early and was leading the event with eight holes to play before making a double at the 11th and a bogey at the 12th. Molinari was cool as ever, posting birdies at 14 and 18 to win his maiden major in the company of Tiger Woods. It was pure theatre and further proof of the talent Molinari possesses.
2018 Ryder Cup
Molinari, paired with Tommy Fleetwood, played against Tiger Woods three times at Le Golf National and beat him in all three matches.
The Italian won all five of his games, the first European ever to achieve the feat, to cap a remarkable year which included his Open win, a PGA Tour triumph and victory at the BMW PGA Championship.
Woods, who had just won his first PGA Tour title in five years, crumbled against Molinari and Fleetwood who were Europe’s best team.