THIS might just be the greatest year ever for European golf. The Ryder Cup team retained their crown magnificently while the players have gone from strength to strength, as the weekend showed.
Francesco Molinari, part of that triumphant dozen at Celtic Manor, continued his ascent with a thrilling victory at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. The Italian beat Lee Westwood by one shot after the pair turned it into a straight duel. Molinari had to summon his very best to see off Westwood.
Incredibly it was only Molinari’s second win on the European Tour, his previous success coming four years ago in his native country. It just goes to show what a boost he has had from being part of that Ryder Cup win, and the same goes for his team-mates. In the five tournaments since, three of the titles have gone to members of his team. As well as Molinari, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer have both enjoyed further victories.
Take a look at the current world rankings and the picture looks even rosier. Westwood is top of the pile, having marked his first week at No1 in fine style. Molinari is up to 14 and will surely break into the top 10 soon. The upper echelons are already bursting with European talent. Six of the top 10 are from this continent, while there are also more Europeans than Americans in the top 20 and the top 30. That is why I think this is such a great time for our players.
My weekend also included some highlights, but it was ultimately very disappointing to finish tied for third at the OKI Castellon Senior Tour Championship in Spain. I had a very bad bogey on the 17th when I was tired, but Mike Cunning had a great final round and deserved to win.