This Ryder Cup will be remembered for one pairing - Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood. Here's how Moliwood magic places Europe on the brink
The stand-out pairing of the 2018 Ryder Cup team matches has been the previously unseen combination of Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood. In two glorious days for team Europe, ‘Moliwood’ as they became affectionately known by the crowd, bagged four points in four matches – an achievement never before recorded by a European pairing.
Their 100 per cent record in this notorious fickle format has spurred the Europeans onto the brink of Ryder Cup victory. Ironically, the roots of their partnership were sewn over years of competing against each other on the European Tour.
Molinari and Fleetwood are also both Nike golf ambassadors. In the days when Nike made golf clubs and balls, the two were on a team roster of players and would often spend time together on photoshoots and at social events.
It seems that over the years the two sparked a friendship to the point that after the Saturday morning fourballs Molinari said of his English partner, “I love him!”
Two years ago the idea of Molinari and Fleetwood leading Europe to victory in a Ryder Cup would have seemed somewhat far-fetched. Fleetwood had struggled to cement his place on the European Tour while Molinari’s game appeared to be fading. However, in 2017 Tommy Fleetwood won the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in January kick-starting an incredible season that saw him crowned Race To Dubai champion.
As for Francesco Molinari, he recruited the help of Dave Alred – a performance coach who had previously worked successfully with the England rugby team. By improving the way he practised, Molinari transformed his game around the greens and has become one of golf’s leading stars. His Open triumph at Carnoustie was the crowning moment in a sparkling year.
And so onto Le Golf National and the two seemed liked the most natural of European pairings.
An interesting sub-script to their success in France is that Molinari and Fleetwood have taken down Tiger Woods in three of their four matches. Whilst the prospect of competing against the resurgent Woods would have intimidated others, Molinari and Fleetwood were both able to look back on recent successes. Molinari played alongside Woods in the final round at Carnoustie while Fleetwood outscored his illustrious playing partner by four shots in the opening two rounds at Augusta National this year. Woods will surely be hoping he doesn’t draw either of them in the singles!
As a result of their incredible partnership, both Molinari and Fleetwood could claim a place in the history books with five points from a single Ryder Cup. If they do, the 2018 Ryder Cup is surely heading back to Europe.