Francesco Molinari threw everything and the kitchen sink at Thorbjorn Olesen as they vied for the Italian Open on Sunday.
Despite a bogey at 17, Molinari played the last six holes in four under par and you can’t ask for any more than that – yet it still wasn’t quite enough.
Olesen was just too good and claimed his first title for 18 months by one shot. His recent form hadn’t hinted at a victory but this isn’t the first time he has come from nowhere to win. He seems to have matured a lot lately, though, so I think we’ll see the effects of that in more consistent results in future.
The Dane showed balls of steel to beat the home favourite in Italy and that kind of temperament is just what is needed in the Ryder Cup.
Olesen’s return to form means he is now just outside the automatic places for the European team to face the United States in September.
Molinari, meanwhile, is virtually guaranteed a place on Thomas Bjorn’s side.
Since the Ryder Cup qualification points increased by 50 per cent at the BMW PGA Championship last month, he has finished first and second. As a result, he tops the European points list, having been a long way short a fortnight ago.
It means Bjorn is more likely to have in-form players to choose from, and his Ryder Cup team is looking stronger and stronger.
Molinari is a veteran of two previous appearances and is an ideal partner in either fourballs or foursomes, so he is a great addition.
Across the Atlantic, at the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour, another of Europe’s leading players, Justin Rose, put in his latest encouraging display.
Fresh from his success at the Fort Worth Invitational seven days earlier, world No3 Rose was tied for sixth at Muirfield Village.
There is still a way to go before the Ryder Cup, but the signs aren’t quite as positive for some of the American leading lights.
I’m a big Tiger Woods fan but the manner in which he fell away on Sunday, with a 72 that saw him finish tied for 23rd, was disappointing.
Others are struggling too. Jordan Spieth looked out of sorts as he missed the cut, while Dustin Johnson was erratic, tainting rounds of 66 and 67 with two 72s.
Europe have their wobbles too. Rory McIlroy might have finished tied for eighth but it was another so-so week by his very high standards.
Again it was a case of a slow start followed by a strong response. McIlroy carded a 74 on Thursday, improved with a 70 on Friday and then shot 64 and 69 at the weekend.
It’s as if the Northern Irishman is lacking a bit of desire. He needs to start his tournaments with more oomph.