Europe regain Ryder Cup as majestic Molinari earns fitting finale

There were plenty of European heroes at Le Golf National, but none bigger than Francesco Molinari, who clinched Ryder Cup glory on Sunday.

Europe maintained their outstanding streak in home Ryder Cups with a convincing 17.5-10.5 victory over the United States.   -  AFP

Francesco Molinari fittingly clinched victory at Le Golf National as Europe maintained their outstanding streak in home Ryder Cups with a convincing 17.5-10.5 victory over the United States.

Leading 10-6 ahead of the final day in northern France, Thomas Bjorn's side had to withstand a predictable charge from their opponents, who won three of the first four matches to finish and halved the other to close within a point.

However, from the moment Jon Rahm beat Tiger Woods 2 and 1 - leaving the 14-time major champion with a record of 0-4 this week - a home victory looked certain with several other European players holding commanding leads and Thorbjorn Olesen having recorded a shock 5 and 4 triumph over Jordan Spieth.

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It was Molinari, the first European to win five out of five matches at a Ryder Cup, who had the honour of clinching the winning point when his opponent, Phil Mickelson, found water at the 16th and conceded on the tee. The winner of The Open Championship in July, Molinari formed a dream partnership with Tommy Fleetwood this week, the duo's perfect record in fourball and foursomes matches a key factor in ensuring the USA remain without a win on European soil since 1993.

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Wildcards Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia also played leading roles for Europe. All three won their singles matches on Sunday and Garcia - whose selection was hotly debated given his poor form in 2018 - is now the record points-scorer in Ryder Cup history, a tally of 25.5 points lifting him beyond Nick Faldo (25).

A star-studded United States line-up started this event as favourites and put the first three points on the board on Friday morning. However, a sensational streak of eight successive European wins - including a clean sweep of the opening foursomes session - followed and Jim Furyk's men were left with far too much work to do

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Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson and Tony Finau recorded valuable victories at the top of the singles draw, either side of Brooks Koepka halving a high-quality match with Paul Casey.

Thomas' triumph over Rory McIlroy was notable for the Northern Irishman enduring a torrid time on the 18th, while Simpson took down FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose and Finau thrashed fellow rookie Fleetwood 6 and 4.

Patrick Reed was the only other US winner, though, as Rahm capitalised on another below-par showing from Woods to secure a hugely significant point and Europe won six of the last seven contests, Olesen providing a highlight in his first appearance since Friday morning as he cruised past the previously impressive Spieth.

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Woods' record in Ryder Cup matches is now 13-21-3 - an abysmal record for a player who has enjoyed so much individual success. Neither he nor Mickelson contributed as much as half a point at Le Golf National.

In contrast, the likes of Poulter (14-6-2) and Garcia (22-12-7) frequently deliver their best form in this biennial event, while Molinari's 4 and 2 win over Mickelson completed an individual performance to rank among any in the competition's illustrious history.

This US team was meant to be their strongest ever, yet they were ultimately thrashed and Alex Noren provided the perfect finish for Europe - long after their victory had been secured - with a lengthy putt to beat Bryson DeChambeau on the 18th green.