Francesco Molinari beat Phil Mickelson 4 & 2 for the winning point as Europe regained the Ryder Cup on an exciting final day at Le Golf National.
The Italian golfer and Open champion became the first European to achieve a perfect haul of five points in one Ryder Cup as he took Europe to the 14.5 point mark. Following the victory, he was drenched in beer by the celebrating European fans and said that it “means more than winning majors”.
It was not always so comfortable for the European team though. Having come into the final day with a 10-6 lead, and needing just four and a half more points out of 12 to win, they lost three of the first five singles matches. The lead now stood at a single point, and the USA could almost taste their first Ryder Cup win on European soil since 1993.
One of those matches was Justin Thomas vs Rory McIlroy. McIlroy was favourite to win the matchup and led for large spells until his ball landed in the bunker on the 18th hole. His first bunker shot went nowhere positive and his second, with increasing desperation, went into the lake. The Northern Irishman looked dejected as the point went to the United States.
The European team needed to bounce back quickly if they wanted to be victorious and that’s exactly what they did. Rookie Thorbjørn Olesen shocked pundits by beating Jordan Speith in a comfortable 5 & 4 win for his first point, leading the charge as the blues got six points out of a possible final seven to regain the Ryder Cup.
In the process Sergio Garcia surpassed Sir Nick Faldo as the all-time Ryder Cup points scorer with 25.5 and shed a few tears in the celebrations. “I don’t usually cry, but I couldn’t help it, what a week,” he said. “It’s been a rough year, but we fought hard. I’m so thankful to Thomas Bjorn for believing in me.”
This year’s competition, despite being labelled “the top one” by European captain Thomas Bjorn, was not a joyous occasion for all. 49 year old Corine Remande, who travelled from Egypt to watch the action, got hit by a Brooks Koepka tee shot. She praised Koepka for making sure she was okay but said she downplayed her injuries to make sure he “would stay concentrated”.
Koepka said that “it’s hard to control a golf ball, especially for 300 yards, and a lot of times the fans are close the the fairway. You can yell ‘fore’ but it doesn’t matter from 300 yards, you can’t hear it.”
After thanking Koepka, Romande took a moment to criticise the Ryder Cup organisers for not reaching out to make sure she was okay. The Egyptian is seeking legal advice to help cover the cost of the medical treatment she needs.
Talking about the incident she said: “It happened so fast, I didn’t feel any pain when I was hit. I didn’t feel like the ball had struck my eye and then I felt the blood start to pour. The scan on Friday confirmed a fracture of the right eye socket and an explosion of the eyeball.”