Team Europe had loved Irish impressionist Conor Moore’s comic depiction of Francesco Molinari’s deadpan demeanour at the start of the week.
By last night, as the Italian entered the Ryder Cup record books, it was the man himself who was the centre of attention.
“His name is not Molinari anymore, it’s ‘Machinari’, because he’s a machine,” said Sergio Garcia as The Open champion from Italy became the first European to record five wins out of five at a single Ryder Cup, matching the feats of three Americans, Larry Nelson in 1979, and Arnold Palmer and Gardner Dickinson in 1967.
“You know this golf course has 18 holes?” Garcia asked his team-mate in jest, a reference to Molinari not needing to play past 17 in any of those five matches.
“I think I played them on Tuesday,” said Molinari dryly.
With Tommy Fleetwood, he had forged such a successful and record-breaking European partnership with four from four that it became dubbed Moliwood, their obvious affection for one another leading to talk of a Moliwood bromance.
A 3&1 fourball victory over Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed was the only time all week he even troubled the tee box at 17, the pair beating the same pair two days running in fourballs with a 4&3 win on Saturday, while in foursomes they defeated both Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, and Woods and Bryson DeChambeau 5&4. No wonder Tiger looked so deflated.
Yesterday, his singles match with Phil Mickelson was over at the 16th tee, poor Lefty completing a miserable week by handing the European his 4&2 win with an errant tee shot at the par-three hole that found the water.
For all the adulation, it has been a week of making up for lost time as far as Molinari was concerned. A team member at Celtic Manor in 2010 and Medinah in 2012, it was not until Paris this week that he recorded his first full point.
“I have been on two winning teams doing a little bit, but not a lot and my record was pretty shocking, really, coming into this week. So statistically, there was a good chance of winning some points,” he said as his team-mates dissolved into laughter.
I’ve been part of another two winning teams where I didn’t bring full points, and I’m glad after I’ve been carried on the shoulders by some of these guys to give something back, but it’s about every one of these guys, the vice-captains, it’s just the best team I’ve ever been part of by miles.
“It’s been intense, but the adrenaline is so much that you could keep going. Today, it was hard. There were many energies, but like I said, you know, it’s not about individuals, it’s about the other guys on the team and the atmosphere that we created, getting here on Monday. I honestly don’t feel any difference bringing five points or one point or half a point like I did in Wales or in Medinah. I said it yesterday when they were asking me and Tommy about winning four out of four, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win the Cup.
That’s what this team is about, and I think honestly, that’s what makes the difference in the end of the week.
What did this Ryder Cup moment mean to Molinari after his summer of success?
“So much, so much more than majors, more than anything,” he said, still without a flicker of emotion.