Continental Europe wins Hero Cup in test ahead of Ryder Cup

Sports

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Continental Europe won the Hero Cup by beating Britain & Ireland 14 1/2-10 1/2 on Sunday, with Italians Francesco Molinari and Guido Migliozzi among those to star for the victorious team and push their credentials for this year’s Ryder Cup in Rome.

Adrian Meronk holed a 25-foot putt at No. 18 to claim the clinching point in the singles matches, which were won 6-4 by Continental Europe to complete a dominant week by the team captained by Molinari.

It won all four sessions in Abu Dhabi, with Molinari, Migliozzi, Victor Perez and Nicolai Hojgaard all earning 3 1/2 points to tie as the top scorers of the week.

The renewal of the competition — formerly called The Seve Trophy — gave European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald a chance to assess players under match-play pressure ahead of the contest with the United States in September.

Molinari stood out, just like he did in the last Ryder Cup on European soil — outside Paris in 2019 — when he formed a star pairing with Tommy Fleetwood.

Now Molinari wants back in to regain the trophy from the Americans and he led from the front Sunday, taking down Shane Lowry — the highest-ranked player in the event — in the first singles match with a 3&2 win.

“It’s a great motivation for me,” Molinari said of the Ryder Cup. “It’s a long way away and there’s a lot of golf to play. I need to focus on my game, which is much better than it has been.

“Being in Rome would be incredible.”

Continental Europe led 8 1/2-6 1/2 after Saturday’s foursomes and Molinari’s victory over Lowry laid the platform. Perez beat Jordan Smith 4&2, Hojgaard had a 1-up win over Seamus Power, and Migliozzi — playing the last match — beat Richard Mansell 4&3.

Meronk’s 1-up win over Callum Shinkwin pushed Continental Europe past 13 points — the target needed for victory.

“I would say European golf is in very good hands,” Molinari said.

Robert MacIntyre and Fleetwood won their singles matches to finish with three points each from the week, the most for Britain & Ireland. MacIntyre beat Alex Noren 5&3 and Fleetwood, the team’s captain, had a 3&2 win over Thomas Pieters.

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