Francesco Molinari played amazing golf to fully deserve his win, although it’s fair to say that the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last week was a tournament of two halves.
Thursday and Friday was all about Rory McIlroy, who carded 67 and 65 to take a three-shot lead into the weekend and looked to have ironed out the creases in his game that had been troubling him.
But McIlroy struggled to sustain that form on Saturday and Sunday, when he shot 71 and 70, and found himself outplayed by Molinari, who was very impressive indeed.
The Italian made just two bogeys all week and was the only player not to drop a shot on Saturday. This was not a case of Rory losing it; Molinari won because he was magnificent.
It was Molinari’s halved match with Tiger Woods that completed the Miracle at Medinah for Europe six years ago and this win has thrust him right into contention for a third Ryder Cup appearance.
The 35-year-old is ideally suited to the competition. He makes birdies and always finds the fairway – perfect attributes for a foursomes or fourballs partner.
He will be desperate to get back into the team, having missed out on the last two occasions. There is a long way to go until Thomas Bjorn’s team is finalised, but Molinari is currently on track to qualify and in a very strong position.
He can tighten his grip on a place later this week, when he tees up on home soil seeking a third victory at the Italian Open.
His win at Wentworth will only ramp up the pressure on the man most of the crowd will be rooting for, and he faces a difficult few days in the bulid-up to the event.
But Molinari isn’t one to have over-celebrated since Sunday, so once the pre-tournament hype dies down and the action begins you can be sure he’ll be as sharp as a tack.
For McIlroy, the weekend will have been hugely disappointing but there was still some brilliant golf by anybody’s standards and some encouraging signs a fortnight out from the US Open.
I spoke to Rory on the driving range on Wednesday and he was working on his swing – specifically, keeping his top half and bottom half in sync. He succeeded for the first two days but when the wind picked up on Saturday it seemed to become more difficult.
He heads across the Atlantic this week for the Memorial Tournament, where he will join the likes of Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Tiger in tuning up for the year’s second Major.
Justin Rose triumphed on that side of the pond on Sunday when he beat Brooks Koepka to the Fort Worth Invitational title in typically classy style.
Koepka carded his second 63 of the week on Sunday in pursuit of Rose, but the Englishman, who went 66-64-66-64, still won by three strokes.
Europe’s most in-form player already has one US Open in the bag, from five years ago. He might just be due another one next month.