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Hero Cup

A past Ryder Cup hero just offered hope he’s got fireworks saved for Rome this September

January 15, 2023

Francesco Molinari, captain of Continental Europe, holds the Hero Cup with teammates after their victory Sunday at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Ross Kinnaird

There was technically a winner at the Hero Cup on Sunday at Abu Dhabi Golf Club: Continental Europe defeated Great Britain & Ireland, 14½-10½, winning all four sessions over the three-day event that brought together hopefuls looking to make the European Ryder Cup team that will play September in Rome.

More substantively, European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald came away pleased to see the spirits high for the 20 participants, particularly that of a former Ryder Cup hero.

Italy’s Francesco Molinari famously went 5-0 for Team Europe at the 2018 Ryder Cup in France. But his recent form—he’s fallen to 164th in the world from a high of fifth back in the summer of 2018 and he’s currently 40th on the World Ryder Cup Points list—has left many wondering if the 40-year-old’s game had already hit its peak. Overseeing the Continentials this past week, Molinari seemed inspire, winning 3½ points for his squad in his role as playing captain.

That included beating Shane Lowry, 3 and 2, in their Sunday singles match, leading to a 6-4 victory for the Continentials in the final session.


Molinari went 3-0-1 for the week, including a singles victory on Sunday over Shane Lowry.

Andrew Redington

“It’s a great motivation for me,” Molinari said of the Ryder Cup being played for the first time in his home country. “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.”

Another Italian shinned this past weekend as Guido Migliozzi joined Molinari, as well as France’s Victor Perez and Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard, in earning 3½ points.

Perhaps most beneficially for the long-term outlook of Team Europe winning back the Ryder Cup in September, Poland’s Adrian Meronk managed to secure the final winning point, making this 25-foot birdie putt to defeat Callum Shinkwin, 1 up.

Meronk is 14th on the European points list and looks to be a likely first-time participant for Donald’s team come September.


Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald congratulates Adrian Meronk for securing the winning point for the Continential team on Sunday at the Hero Cup.

Oisin Keniry

"I didn't hole a lot of putts today so it was great to have this final putt on the last. With the team all around me, a special feeling," Meronk said. "Winning as a team is just much more fun because you have these guys supporting you, playing with them and just being as a team … it's just more fun and it's more enjoyable for me, for sure."