Continental Europe clung on to regain the Seve Trophy by Golf+ for the first time since 2000 as the singles went down to the final match at Saint-Nom-La-Bretèche.
José María Olazábal’s side had lost the last six contests to Great Britain & Ireland, and having led after both of the first two days they entered the final day locked together at 9-9 after a spirited fightback by Sam Torrance’s team in the foursomes.
Just like last year’s Ryder Cup at Medinah, it was Francesco Molinari in the anchor role who completed victory, beating Chris Wood 3 and 2 to secure a 15-13 win.
“Very emotional - it's been a tough day,” said Olazábal, after leading Continental Europe to only their second triumph in the event. “Everything went to the last match. The boys really played well today and I'm very, very happy to have won the Seve Trophy this time.
“It was going to go down to the last three matches at least. We had a pretty good start, then Great Britain & Ireland took over and we started to see some reds on the board. But the boys kept their composure and played really well, especially these last few matches, they played really great golf.
“I think the first two matches were crucial, to get a point and a half out of those two, it was big.”
A disappointed Torrance admitted his side had lost to the better side on the day.
“They were very strong,” he said. “We gave it everything, but came out just short.”
Simon Khan’s back injury meant his match was halved, Thomas Björn sitting out for the Europeans, leaving either side in need of five points for victory.
Great Britain & Ireland led when Tommy Fleetwood upset the form book to claim his first point of the week with a 3 and 2 victory over Joost Luiten, ending the Dutchman’s 100 per cent record in the process.
Jamie Donaldson and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño shared a scrappy opening contest, before Nicolas Colsaerts held his nerve from five feet on the final green to see off Paul Casey following an epic duel.
Grégory Bourdy delighted the home fans as he became the first player in the tournament’s history to win five points out of five, some sumptuous iron play helping him overcome Scott Jamieson 4 and 3.
Marc Warren won by the same margin against Thorbjørn Olesen to square the contest again at 12-12, but by then Continental Europe had full control of three of the last four ties.
Miguel Angel Jiménez had four birdies in his first six holes as he beat an out-of-sorts David Lynn 6 and 4 – the Englishman’s flu symptoms presumably not helped by twice hitting his ball in the water.
Matteo Manassero delivered a short-game master class to see off Stephen Gallacher 3 and 2 to take Europe to the 14-point mark, and despite Mikko Ilonen being behind to Paul Lawrie at that stage, Molinari looked on course to provide the winning point as he took a two up lead down the closing stretch.
Lawrie duly held on to win 2 and 1, leaving Molinari needing just a half as he reprised the anchor role that saw him beat Tiger Woods to clinch Europe’s Ryder Cup victory last year.
He went one better than that – a 12 foot birdie putt at the 16th overcoming the battling Wood.
“It feels great, for us, for Chema, for all the times that we have lost in the past,” said the Italian. “I played the last two before this, and it's never a good feeling to finish on the losing side. We tried really hard; they played great yesterday afternoon to get back into it and it was all to play for today.
“It was funny yesterday when Olazábal was reading the list; I kind of knew I was going to be last, but I was waiting every name, hoping to hear mine, and I didn't until the tenth spot. But it's great for us and for everyone.
“I tried to stay away from the leaderboards as much as possible, but then obviously you see everyone coming up to your match and watching you. I tried not to do the math, so I just realized here that I needed a half a point, so I wasn't going to hit my putts too firmly. It's good to finish in style with two birdies.
“You've got nine teammates here and the captain, and you don't want to let anyone down. I've done it twice now going last in the singles, I don't know if I want to do it again!”
On the influence of Olazábal, Molinari added: “He's amazing. He's one of the most inspiring figures in golf, not only European, but in the world of golf. Every time he speaks, everyone is listening carefully. He's just as inspiring as anyone can be.”
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