Francesco Molinari earned a battling half with deflated Tiger Woods to secure Ryder Cup victory
Last Updated: 01/10/12 6:43am
Francesco Molinari poses with European captain Jose Maria Olazabal and the Ryder Cup
Francesco Molinari showed tremendous grit and determination against Tiger Woods to earn the half that clinched an astonishing victory for Europe in the 39th Ryder Cup.
The contest appeared certain to end in a 14-14 tie when Woods took a one-hole lead up the last, but he missed a three-foot putt for par and generously conceded the hole to spare the Italian a tricky par putt of his own.
The 12th and final singles was the only match of the entire contest to end in a half, and a clearly shell-shocked Woods stumbled away from Medinah without a win in his four games.
Molinari jumped into an early lead when Woods bogeyed the second, and the Italian then converted a precise approach to the third for a winning birdie.
Woods won the fourth with a battling par despite pulling his drive into trees, and another par at six levelled the match after Molinari found trouble off the tee.
Molinari halted the slide by matching Woods' birdie at the seventh, and he drained a 15-footer for a four at the long 10th to reclaim the lead.
But Molinari bogeyed the 12th and 13th to slip behind for the first time, only to respond with a birdie at 14 after Woods lipped out from six feet.
The Italian then thinned a chip from the back of the 17th green and failed to save par, but he did well to find the green from a fairway bunker at the last.
Woods' approach trundled through the green, although he almost holed the chip for birdie and Molinari lagged to just inside three feet.
But Woods then pulled his par putt left and offered his hand to the elated Molinari as Europe began celebrating a monumental victory.