THRILLING RYDE FOR GOLF FANS

Wales On Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

FRANCESCO Moli­nari in­sisted records would not mat­ter if the Ry­der Cup was not won af­ter he and Tommy Fleet­wood made his­tory in Paris yes­ter­day.

The Open cham­pion and the English debu­tant be­came the first Euro­pean pair­ing to win four matches at the same Ry­der Cup as they fol­lowed up Fri­day’s four­balls and four­somes suc­cesses with fur­ther wins in both.

They saw off Tiger Woods and Pa­trick Reed 4&3 in the morn­ing at Le Golf Na­tional be­fore re­turn­ing to the course in the af­ter­noon to beat Woods and Bryson DeCham­beau two up.

Their per­for­mance helped Europe into a com­mand­ing 10-6 over­all lead head­ing into Sun­day’s sin­gles matches. Vic­tory for ei­ther would see them com­plete the first 5-0 record by a Euro­pean player.

Moli­nari said: “All the records are for noth­ing if we don’t win the cup back.

“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-anda-half (points).

“We’re get­ting closer but those four-and-a-half points we’re go­ing to need to­mor­row, we’re go­ing to have to fight hard for them.

“They’re ob­vi­ously 12 great play­ers and it’s not go­ing to be easy but we’re do­ing it prop­erly, we’re do­ing it the right way.”

It has been an out­stand­ing in­tro­duc­tion to the Ry­der Cup for Fleet­wood, who has hardly looked like a rookie.

The 27-year-old ad­mit­ted he was “a lit­tle bit emo­tional right now” as he tried to take in the mag­ni­tude of his per­for­mance.

He added: “We were re­ally, re­ally good this af­ter­noon. We played re­ally solid, we played re­ally well.

“The piece of his­tory to­gether - it’s very spe­cial, but we’re just glad that we’ve done our job for the team. We’ve had a great time.

“There are no dis­ad­van­tages to play­ing with this man. Fran has led me so well.”

Mean­while Tiger Woods was “p****d off” to lose all three of his matches to Europe’s star pair.

The 14-time ma­jor win­ner’s poor record in the com­pe­ti­tion got worse as he lost both four­balls ses­sions and the Satur­day af­ter­noon four­somes.

It left him with 20 de­feats, 13 wins, and three halves in the com­pe­ti­tion, well be­low the stan­dards he achieved as an in­di­vid­ual.

“Ev­ery­thing feels pretty good. Just pretty p****d off the fact that I lost three matches and didn’t feel like I played poorly,” said the 42-year-old, who part­nered Bryson DeCham­beau to a crush­ing 5&4 four­somes de­feat af­ter los­ing 4&3 in the morn­ing with a woe­ful Pa­trick Reed.

“That’s the frus­trat­ing thing about match­play. We can play well and noth­ing can hap­pen.

“We ran against two guys that were both play­ing well and when one was out of the hole, es­pe­cially in best-ball (four­balls), the other one made birdie and vice-versa.

“They did that a lot to us. At one point they made, what, six out of eight birdies on the back nine, and only one per­son was in the hole at a time. That’s the na­ture of match­play.

“The three matches we played they never missed a putt in­side 10, 12 feet. That’s hard to do.

“Play­ing against a team like that, that’s putting that well, you’re go­ing to have to make a lot of birdies and we didn’t.

“We’ve got some work to do to­mor­row. Hope­fully we can get off to a quick start and get up in some of th­ese matches and turn the tide a lit­tle bit.”

Europe cap­tain Thomas Bjorn’s de­ci­sion to rest Hen­rik Sten­son and Justin Rose in the morn­ing paid div­i­dends when they com­bined to beat world num­ber one Dustin John­son and three-time ma­jor win­ner Brooks Koepka 2&1.

And al­though Ser­gio Gar­cia and Alex Noren lost 3&2 to Bubba Watson and Webb Simp­son and Rory McIl­roy and Ian Poul­ter went down 4&3 to Justin Thomas and Jor­dan Spi­eth, the 10-6 mar­gin gave Europe their big­gest lead ahead of the fi­nal day since 2006.

Fresh from over­turn­ing an early 3-1 deficit by win­ning a four­somes ses­sion 4-0 for the first time in the con­test’s his­tory, the home side came out fir­ing on day two against a seem­ingly shell-shocked United States side. McIl­roy and Gar­cia sur­vived a nervy fin­ish to lead from the front and beat Koepka and Finau, be­fore Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hat­ton were a com­bined nine un­der par in a 3&2 vic­tory over John­son and Rickie Fowler.

Fleet­wood and Moli­nari, whose win over Woods and Reed was the only Euro­pean suc­cess on Fri­day morn­ing, then re­peated the feat in style.

The fourth match was the only one which went against the home side as Spi­eth and Thomas beat Poul­ter and Rahm 2&1, de­spite the Euro­pean pair be­ing seven un­der par.

Francesco Moli­nari tees off at the ninth while Tiger Woods looks on yes­ter­day

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