Sports Review 2018: Frankie goes to Hollywood with unbelievable storyline
Molinari became the hottest golfer on the planet at the Ryder Cup in Paris
Francesco Molinari celebrates his clean sweep and Europe’s win at the Ryder Cup. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Ryder Cup: Europe 17.5 USA 10.5 - September 28th-30th, Le Golf National, Paris
A Hollywood scriptwriter would have been told where the rubbish bin was if such a storyline was proposed, for when Francesco Molinari missed the cut at The Players championship in May, any indication that he would be capable of carrying out an Italian job on golf’s biggest stage through the summer and into the autumn was a rather fanciful notion.
Molinari had other ideas. The 35-year-old became the hottest golfer on the planet, winning the Claret Jug at the British Open in Carnoustie in July and, then, standing head and shoulders above all others in the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris in September.
While his partnership with Tommy Fleetwood was packaged as some sort of “Moliwood” power couple the truth is that Frankie was the star of the show: Molinari boldly went where no man - at least European - had gone before, winning a perfect five-from-five in his leading role as Europe’s poster boy for the 17 ½ to 10 ½ win over a disjointed United States team.
How Molinari finished the job, as the player to secure the winning point, was like something fated. His opponent, Phil Mickelson, put his tee shot on the Par 3 16th into the water; and it was Molinari, in the ninth singles of a raucous day, who was engulfed by team-mates on the tee box, showered by popping champagne bottles and serenaded by the huge galleries who sang his name.
This was Molinari’s Ryder Cup, in his season of seasons. Molinari’s deeds made him a history-maker. Three Americans - Arnold Palmer and Gardner Dickinson in 1967, and Larry Nelson in 1979 - had completed clean sweeps through all sessions in the Ryder Cup but Molinari became the first European to do so. Being the star man was, he said, “so much more than Majors, more than anything.”
Tiger, Tiger, Tiger. One word: Why? After a comeback of comebacks, one of the most memorable of any sportsman, to go from barely being able to walk to winning the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour, why did you go and spoil it all by playing in “The Match”? A grubby, unedifying multi-million dollar duel in the desert with new best friend Lefty? Why, why, why? That “The Match” was reduced to a crazy golf wedge-in-hand shootout in darkness was what it deserved and hopefully will put an end to such carry-on.