Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood lead Europe to brink of Ryder Cup glory

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 29: Tommy Fleetwood of England and the European Team (L) embraces his partner Francesco Molinari after Molinari had hit a great shot to the 15th green which won them their match against Tiger Woods and Patrick Reedof the United States during the morning fourball matches of the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National on September 29, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images) David Cannon/Getty Images

Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood lead Europe to brink of Ryder Cup glory

2018 Ryder Cup

Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood lead Europe to brink of Ryder Cup glory

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – It was 5:38 p.m. Paris time Saturday when a Ryder Cup phenomenon dubbed “Moliwood” was born. Moliwood could be the foundation on which Europe wins back the Ryder Cup. It’s a huge reason why it enters Sunday’s singles matches ahead 10-6.

Put a hashtag in front of Moliwood. It’s been trending on Twitter. Who would have thought the partnership of Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood would be perfection for Europe?

There have been many great European pairings — Seve Ballesteros/Jose Maria Olazabal, Darren Clarke/Lee Westwood, Nick Faldo/Ian Woosnam, Sergio Garcia/Luke Donald, Garcia/Westwood and Henrik Stenson/Justin Rose. None did what Moliwood did on here on the outskirts of Paris. Go 4-0 in a Ryder Cup.

European captain Thomas Bjorn knew he had something special when he paired the reigning European No. 1 with the current British Open champion, but not this special. Not even a resurgent Tiger Woods could stop this powerhouse. Woods is 0-3 against Moliwood. Two of those losses came on Saturday.

“A little bit emotional right now,” Fleetwood said. “We were really, really good this afternoon. We played really solid, we played really well. About the piece of history together, it’s very special. I’m just glad that, you know, we’ve done our job for the team.”

Molinari said: “We came here to do a job. It wasn’t to go in the records books or anything like that, it’s about the team, it’s about getting to 14 1/2. We’re getting closer, but those 4 1/2 points we’re going to need tomorrow, we’re going to have to fight hard for them.”

True, but not as hard if not for Moliwood.

There’s another reason Europe is on the threshold of winning back the Ryder Cup. Bjorn’s captain’s picks have contributed far more to his side than those of U.S. boss Jim Furyk. Bjorn’s four selections have delivered six points compared to Furyk’s four who’ve delivered just one point. Tony Finau is the only U.S. pick to get on the board. Woods is 0-3 and in danger of yet another poor Ryder Cup. Phil Mickelson didn’t even play on Saturday after a dismal Friday, and Bryson DeChambeau is having a nightmare debut.

The 2012 European Miracle at Medinah and the 1999 U.S. comeback at Brookline proves 10-6 advantages can be overcome.

“You look at Brookline, Medinah, plenty of examples of these score lines not meaning a lot until you get to singles,” Bjorn said.

Bjorn and the European team will not get complacent, but it’s hard to see Furyk’s team making up a four-point deficit. The U.S. has to win eight of 12 singles on a course the Europeans have played far better, with players who look like they jumped onto the U.S. team plane as excess baggage. Mickelson and Patrick Reed have played particularly poorly.

Reed has been the biggest U.S. disappointment with an 0-2 record over the first two days. Those two are part of a quartet of U.S. team members yet to deliver a point. Bjorn only has two players who are pointless: Jon Rahm and Thorbjorn Olesen.

“We need every single man on the golf course to do their bit,” Bjorn said. “We’ve got to get out there and really, really, really play hard and be determined to win this back. When you look at those 12 American names, that’s a strong lineup. It can go any way.”

It’s hard to see it going any way but Europe’s. Prepare for cries of Ole, Ole, Ole to ring around Le Golf National on Sunday.

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