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McIlroy eager to play with British Open champion Molinari in Ryder Cup

By Agencies - Jul 24,2018 - Last updated at Jul 24,2018

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy speaks during a news conference ahead of the 147th Open Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland, on July 18 (Reuters photo)

CARNOUSTIE — Rory McIlroy reckons Francesco Molinari will not be short of offers when it comes to forming partnerships at the Ryder Cup following the Italian’s superb victory at the British Open.

Molinari held his nerve at the Carnoustie course in Scotland on Sunday to win his first major championship title, beating a top-class field by two shots.

His victory saw Molinari rise to the top of Europe’s Ryder Cup standings ahead of the clash against the United States in Paris in September.

McIlroy was one of the potential title-contenders left trailing by the in-form Molinari, who last played in the Ryder Cup in 2012.

Molinari, the first Italian to win one of golf’s four majors, has been in superb form this season, winning the European PGA at Wentworth and the Quicken Loans event in the United States. 

“He’s always been a great player but, with how he’s played this year, there’s just maybe a little more belief,” said McIlroy of Molinari.

“I played with him the final day at Wentworth, where he won, and he didn’t miss a shot.

“So there’s going to be a lot of European guys vying for his partnership in the foursomes at the Ryder Cup, that’s for sure. He’s a fantastic golfer and he’s a great guy.”

One of the other contenders was 14-time major winner Tiger Woods, who was back vying for one of golf’s biggest prizes again before finishing three shots behind Molinari.

“It’s not [the] Tiger that, you know, Phil [Mickelson] and Ernie [Els] and those guys had to deal with. It’s a different version,” said World No. 8 McIlroy, who ended the British Open in a share of second place.

“But he [was] right there. He’s getting himself in the mix. He looked good in [Washington] DC a couple weeks back [where he tied fourth at the Quicken]. He’s looked good here.

“He does things that maybe he didn’t do 10, 15 years ago, but it’s still great to have him back. It’s still great for golf.”

McIlroy put himself into contention with an eagle at the par-five 14th, but could not claw back any more shots over the closing four holes and signed for 70.

“I don’t really feel like it’s a defeat,” said McIlroy. “I feel like it’s been a good week.

“Only one guy out of 156 is going to win, 155 other guys are going to leave a little disappointed.”

It was another case of what might have been in a major for McIlroy after he threatened to deliver victory at the British Open before settling for a tie for second place.

The 29-year-old Northern Irishman looked down and out in the closing round when bogeys at the second and fifth pushed him down the field in stiff breezes at Carnoustie that gusted up to 28mph.

However, McIlroy produced just the sort of burst he has become renowned for.

Birdies at the ninth and 11th restored his hopes before he celebrated wildly after sinking a 50-foot putt for an eagle three at the 14th.

Ultimately, though, the four-times major champion fell short after a run of four straight pars over the brutal closing holes.

“I’m not really frustrated,” McIlroy told reporters after a one-under 70 left him on six-under 278 overall, two behind champion Francesco Molinari of Italy.

“I could have squeezed one more out of the round today. When I made the eagle on 14 it was tough to get close on 15, 16 and 17.

“I think anything under-par out there today was a good score. I’m happy with how I played,” said McIlroy who has seven times finished in the top-10 in a major without winning since landing his last ‘Big Four’ title at the 2014 US PGA Championship.

“I didn’t get off to a great start but I hung in there and battled back and just ran out of holes at the end,” he said.

McIlroy said he was pleased to have played a minor role in a blockbuster round during which the lead changed hands several times, with former World No. 1 Woods having a brief spell in top spot.

“It was great just to be a part of it and hear the roars,” McIlroy added. 

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