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Monday, March 20, 2023

Molinari leads Continental to win Abu Dhabi Heroes Cup

Molinari leads Continental to win Abu Dhabi Heroes Cup

Members of the Continental team pose for a photo with the trophy along with dignitaries.

Members of the Continental team pose for a photo with the trophy along with dignitaries.

Francesco Molinari lifted the Heroes Cup aloft in front of his jubilant continental teammates.

Now, he hopes to return to golf’s bigger team event, the Ryder Cup later this year in his native Italy.

“It’s a big motivator for me,” said Molinari, who led the Continental team to a 14½-10½ victory over England and Ireland on Sunday, ending a week in which European golfers experienced the best of them all. Some will face the pressure of a match at the Ryder Cup outside Rome in September.

“(The Ryder Cup) is a long way off, there’s still a lot of golf to be played and I need to focus on my game, which is much better than it was. It’s going to be incredible in Rome.”

Molinari led the way in Abu Dhabi, scoring 3.5 points this week — tied for the most in four games — and beat the tournament’s highest-ranked player, Sean Lowry, in a single on Sunday. , thus laying the groundwork for Sunday’s singles. The first game was won with 3&2.

Continental led 8½-6½ and won the singles 6-4, with Adrian Meronk making a 25-foot putt at No. 18 for the final shot. This is the only time of the week for Polish players.

The renewal of the tournament (formerly known as the Cypher Trophy) has European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald had the chance to assess a new generation of Roma as they compete in the Saudi-funded LIV Golf League.

Donald knew all about Molinari, 40, a Grand Slam winner and star of the European Ryder Cup win outside Paris in 2018, when he formed an inseparable and unbeatable pairing with Tommy Fleetwood. partner.

Molinari’s form has slipped since then, and he’s even dropped out of the top 200 in the world, but he believes he’s on his way back.

Donald will learn more about another Italian — 25-year-old Guido Migliozzi — as well as other young players.

Migliozzi, Victor Perez and Nicolai Hojgaard all had 3.5 points as did Molinari, while Robert MacIntyre and captain Fleetwood added 3 for Great Britain and Ireland.

Molinari wins over Lowry, who ends the week with zero points, then Perez beats Jordan Smith 4-2, Hoygard beats Seamus Bauer in 1 win, Migliozzi in Beat Richard Mansell 4-3 in the final game.

It was Meronk’s 1-up win over Callum Shinkwin that lifted the Continental team by 13 points – the goal needed for victory.

“I think we’ve shown some great golf over the last few days — both teams.

“I think both teams showed a very competitive but fair spirit. Obviously to my people – unbelievable work. I’m super proud of each of you.

“I’ve gotten to know some people I don’t know very well and I can say that European golf is in very safe hands,” Molinari added.

MacIntyre is shaping up to be the future star of European golf and capped off a good week for the Scot with a 5&3 win over Alex Noren. Fleetwood beat Thomas Peters 3-2 in Game 2 before spending the rest of the afternoon at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club supporting his team-mates.

At the award ceremony, Fleetwood congratulated the continent — “gritting his teeth,” he said with a laugh — and tried to look at the bigger picture.

“Back in September, almost two years ago, one of the first things we talked about was the opportunity to play more team golf and have the opportunity,” he said.

“The enthusiasm and competitiveness of all of us came out.

“It’s been amazing, it’s been an amazing experience for me. I wish we could have done it, but at the same time, you’ll always remember those moments and cherish them,” Fleetwood added.

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