Francesco Molinari's Ryder Cup heroics earn Italian praise
Five-star performance a boost for 2022 Ryder Cup in Italy
Last Updated: 01/10/18 3:47pm
Francesco Molinari has been hailed in his native Italy following his starring role for Europe in their victory over the United States in the Ryder Cup.
The Open champion became the first European player to win all five of his matches at a Ryder Cup as he eased to a 4&2 singles triumph over Phil Mickelson to secure the hosts the trophy with a 17.5-10.5 success at Le Golf National.
"There's just one Tiger and he's called Chicco," headlined Corriere Dello Sport, using 35-year-old Molinari's nickname.
"Molinari in outer space in the Ryder Cup: decisive point and record wins," it said.
Gazzetta Dello Sport wrote: "Mr Ryder is an Italian. Molinari goes beyond the limits of expectations."
Molinari's performance - he also claimed four points alongside Tommy Fleetwood in the fourballs and foursomes - capped a remarkable season that began with his maiden major title at Carnoustie in July.
He is the first player from either side to claim five points at a Ryder Cup since the USA's Larry Nelson in 1979.
The Turin native's heroics were seen as a boost for golf in Italy with the 2022 Ryder Cup set to be hosted at the Marco Simone Golf and Country club outside Rome.
"The hope is that the great performances of Francesco were only a warm-up for the Ryder Cup in Rome," said Franco Chimenti, president of the Italian Golf Federation.
"In four years we'll have an even more beautiful Ryder Cup thanks to him."
Chimenti added: "A player who wins everything in the Ryder Cup for three consecutive days must be considered among the most important athletes not only in Italian but world sport.
"He has all the qualities to be the number one in the world."
Ryder Cup 2022 project director Gian Paolo Montali said he hoped the Francesco effect would rub off on the popularity of golf beyond the Rome Ryder Cup.
"The eyes of the whole world will be on us," said Montali.
"The goal is to get from 90,000 to 118,000 registered golf players by 2027, but I hope we can do that much sooner."