Bjorn hails his record-breakers
Fleetwood and Molinari help Europe to 10-6 lead McIlroy berates fan with F-word rant as tensions rise
Thomas Bjorn hailed record-breaking performances by Tommy Fleetwood and “on another planet” Francesco Molinari last night as Europe home in on a sensational Ryder Cup victory.
With a commanding 10-6 advantage following eight straight points for the home team, Bjorn spoke of his pride but urged his side to avoid complacency and remember previous comebacks by America as they entered the final day at Le Golf National.
The captain has kept faith in “fantastic” Rory McIlroy, who leads the charge against Justin Thomas in the singles today, despite an ill-tempered exchange with a spectator who questioned his putting ability.
Bjorn said Italian Molinari had been “phenomenal” and on a different planet after the Open champion and English debutant Fleetwood became the first European pairing to triumph on consecutive days in both the fourballs and foursomes. Victory for either tomorrow would see them complete the first 5-0 record by a European player.
“What they have done is pretty remarkable,” Bjorn said. Of Molinari, he added: “I don’t know what planet he lives on, but it’s not the one that the rest of the players live on.”
Tempers flared on both sides during a second day of drama as Europe became the first side since 1967 to complete eight points on the bounce. An away side has only overcome a 10-6 deficit once before – the 2012 “Miracle of Medinah”.
On an at-times ill-tempered day of action, Sky Sports commentators apologised to viewers in Britain after several players were heard swearing.
McIlroy also snapped back at a fan who appeared to be goading him during defeat with Ian Poulter against Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.
Bjorn said he had not been alerted to the incident, but added: “If it was a big problem for Rory, he would have mentioned it to me.”
The captain added of today’s task: “History will show me and everybody on that team that this is not over. That’s what it’s all about. You go full bore. Get out there and do all the right things, and this is not over until you’ve got the points on the board.”
Fleetwood and Molinari saw off Tiger Woods, who has lost three out of three matches, and Patrick Reed 4&3 in the morning before returning to the course in the afternoon to beat Woods and Bryson DeChambeau two up.
However Molinari said their personal triumph would mean nothing if they don’t win the cup today.
He added: “We came here to do a job and it wasn’t to go in the records books or anything like that. It’s about the team, it’s about getting to 14-and-a-half [points].
“We’re getting closer but those fourand-a-half points we’re going to need tomorrow, we’re going to have to fight hard for them.”
Fleetwood, 27, a Ryder Cup rookie, added: “There are no disadvantages to playing with this man. Fran has led me so well. He deserves so much credit and it has been such an honour to play alongside him.”
Fired up: Tommy Fleetwood celebrates sinking a putt during his historic day with Francesco Molinari – the duo became the first European partnership to win all four of their matches