Presenting: Moliwood! Meet the duo that’s carried Team Europe to the brink of an epic upset

September 29, 2018

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — Whether it’s Moliwood or Fleetinari, maybe even Tommcesco, the duo of Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari are undoubtedly the men of this Ryder Cup match.

Facing Tiger Woods (for the third session in two days) and Bryson DeChambeau Saturday afternoon, Moliwood (Frankie’s bro likes that best) began with a birdie to move 1 up on the first hole. They went 2 up with a par on the 3rd. Three up on the 6th. Four up on the 8th…You get the point. Moliwood continued its thrashing of American pairs by thumping Woods and DeChambeau 5&4. They are the first European duo to go 4-0 in four sessions…ever.

“It won’t be easy tomorrow, being separated,” Molinari said. It sounded like a joke, but Moli’ is a dead-pan kind of guy. It was hard to tell; they seem to really, really enjoy spending time together. This Ryder Cup match made in h̶e̶a̶v̶e̶n Paris has been in place for some time. Euro captain Thomas Bjorn had lengthy conversations with each player in the run up to this week. Both were adamant how much they felt the other fit their game well. He then went to “the stats guys,” aka 15th Club, to double-check if they’d make a good pair. It all checked out.

Tommy fleetwood Francesco Molinari
Tommy Fleetwood (left) and Francesco Molinari (right) moments after their fourth victory this Ryder Cup.
USA Today

So Fleetwood and Molinari arrived in France knowing they’d likely play together. Though they were relatively mum about potential pairings, there was Frankie in his early-week press conference, calling Tommy “amazing,” “talented,” “really complete,” great at driving, lacking a weakness and pure with his irons. Maybe we should have seen it coming, but consider that the start of the Good Vibes Tour.

After beating Woods and Reed 3 and 1 Friday morning, Molinari: “I love him. What can I say? I love him.” 24 hours later, after spanking them again, this time 5&4, Fleetwood: “He’s one of my best friends, not just on Tour but in life.” More than once this week they’ve pulled back during the middle of a TV interview, smiled into each other’s eyes and embraced in a bear hug. If there ever was a visual for four and oh, that was it.

Beyond their mutual adoration, what makes so much sense with these two? Start with the course they’re playing, Le Golf National. It’s an uber-tight track made for guys who can stripe it down a country road. Fleetwood won here in 2017. Molinari plays the French Open every year (besides 2018, of course, when he was busy winning the Quicken Loans National); he’s finished second three times.

The fairway is a must here, thanks to thick, juicy rough that lays down in every direction. Moliwood combines two of the best drivers in the world (not to mention two of the greatest golfers, period). They’re ranked 5th and 12th in the world for many reasons, one of them being they are plenty long and very, very straight (each top 10 in total driving). When they reach the green, the torture continues. Death by a thousand holed putts. Because of the nature of the event, official stats are not kept at the Ryder Cup, but rest assured, Moliwood is leading the field in strokes gained putting.

Theirs is a torturous style of golf to go up against; it pushes opponents toward rash decision-making. The clearest example came on the third hole, when Francesco found the water hazard. Already one down, DeChambeau didn’t club down for safety. He stayed aggressive, hit driver anyway, and flew directly into the hazard as well. Moliwood made par to their oppenents’ bogey and the match was never that close again.

“We went bogey-free today, eh?” Fleetwood said after it all smiling at Molinari. “Anytime you’re doing that, you’re going to be in good shape.” It was 14 holes of bogey-free golf against Woods and DeChambeau, winners of three of the four FedEx Cup Playoffs events. No other duo has pulled played alternate shot bogey-free this week. It was their third win over Woods in two days. You could say they got under his skin.

“[I’m] pretty pissed off, the fact that I lost three matches, and didn’t feel like I played poorly,” Woods said. He’s right; he played fine. Moliwood just played better. “When one was out of the hole, especially in best-ball, the other one made birdie and vice versa. They did that a lot to us.”