Italy created golfing history by winning the Omega Mission Hills World Cup for the first time after a thrilling final round battle with Ireland and Sweden came down to the 72nd hole, where the Molinari brothers combined perfectly to get up and down from a greenside bunker to take the title by a single stroke on Sunday.
Standing on the last tee on the Olazábal Course with a one stroke lead over playing partners Ireland and Sweden who were approaching the 18th green, Franceso fired a perfect drive down the middle of the fairway to set up Italy’s victory charge.
With Edoardo standing over his approach shot to the green, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson watched in agony as his 45 foot birdie putt to tie the Italians lipped out, leaving Italy needing a par four to create history – providing Ireland did not make birdie.
Edoardo pushed his approach into the bunker before Rory McIlroy gave Ireland one last chance, but Graeme McDowell could only watch on as his birdie attempt stayed above ground giving Italy their chance to make history.
“It’s been a tough day and we have been playing against some of the best golfers in the world. It was really tough until the last, but it feels even better when it is like that,” said Francesco
“It’s really great for Italy. I think we deserved it as we attacked from the first day with every putt and every shot and we tried to make as many birdies as possible.
“I was lucky to hole two big putts on 12 and 13 which were probably the key moment and we just had to hang in there and hope for the best.”
Edoardo, the European Challenge Tour Number One and winner of last week’s Dunlop Phoenix in Japan, echoed his brother’s joy, adding: “It was a very sweet feeling after holing the putt. When I saw the bull in the bunker, it was lying okay, and I just said, ‘Francesco, just knock it on the green anywhere, and I'm going to hole the putt.’
“It was I think a great way to finish, to win by one shot against some really good teams like Ireland and Sweden. I mean, all of the players involved in the other teams were Ryder Cup players, so I think we probably had not realised what we have done today. But I think it's going to be pretty good coming back home.”
Irish duo McIlroy and McDowell had stretched their overnight lead to three shots on the front nine, but failed to further advance their score on the way home and a final round two under 70 was not enough to secure what would have been a wire-to-wire victory.
Sweden produced a gallant title defence as World Number Seven Stenson and Karlsson, who was beaten in a play-off by Edoardo last week in Japan, carded a final round three under par 69.
England finished fourth at 26 under par as an impressive bogey-free eight under 64 came just too late for Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher.
Hiroyuki Fujita and Ryuji Imada claimed fifth for Japan a further four shots back after a 69 with Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby earning sixth for Australia.
South Africa, Wales, Korea, Germany and USA, who shot a brilliant bogey-free final round ten under par 62, rounded out the top ten at 20 under par.
But the day belonged to Italy who put their names in the history books with a brilliant performance.