PARIS (Reuters) - Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood won their foursomes on Saturday to become the first European duo to sweep all four pairs matches and are on course for even more history as Europe take a 10-6 lead into the final day of the Ryder Cup.
After thumping Tiger Woods and Bryson Dechambeau 5&4 they became the first-ever European pairing to win all four of their matches. Only Larry Nelson and Lanny Wadkins, in 1979, have ever managed it for the Americans.
The crushing winning margins — 3&1, 5&4, 4&3 and 5&4 — tell only half the story. Left in their dust was a battered Woods, the 14-times major winner being drubbed three times, with Patrick Reed brushed aside twice. The other win came against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, the form pairing of the U.S. team this week who won their other three games.
Molinari and Fleetwood go into Sunday’s singles with the chance to become the first Europeans to win five points out of five. Fleetwood has already claimed the most points in a single Ryder Cup by a European rookie.
Dubbed “Mollywood” by their newly-acquired army of fans, at first glance the pair might have looked unlikely contenders to lead the European charge.
Ryder Cup first-timers such as Fleetwood are not supposed to perform like this, while Molinari had failed to win any of his six previous matches, losing four of them.
However, a more positive view was that Fleetwood was European number one last year, knows the Le Golf National course inside out having won the French Open here in 2017, and showed his big-match temperament by finishing second in this year’s U.S. Open.
Molinari is the freshly-minted British Open champion and widely regarded as the most consistent ball-striker on the European Tour — an attribute that has paid huge dividends on the tight course where finding the rough, as the Americans all-too-often did, was a recipe for disaster.
Those pedigrees, combined with what looked like a great on-course chemistry, proved an irresistible force.
“I feel a little bit emotional now and we’re only on Saturday,” said the famously laid-back Fleetwood, who has played all weekend with a huge smile on his face.
“We were really good this afternoon, really solid and played really well. To have your own piece of history together is really special. I’m just glad we’ve done our job for the team.”
Molinari was equally delighted. “Playing alongside Tommy, it’s been amazing,” he said.
“But we’ve come to do a job, not to go in the record books, those 4-1/2 points we’ll need tomorrow (for the overall victory) we will have to fight hard for; it’s not going to be easy.”
Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Clare Fallon