Francesco Molinari: Why He's Crucial to European Ryder Cup Fortunes

Brandon AlisogluCorrespondent ISeptember 28, 2012

MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari of Europe on the first hole during the Morning Foursome Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 28, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The Europeans have been victorious in six out of the last eight Ryder Cup tournaments and are looking to build a streak after winning in 2010. Italian golfer Francesco Molinari must put forth a solid effort in order for the Euros to bring  home the continental trophy.

Molinari has been to the mountain before and walked away a winner at Celtic Manor two years ago. Here are the reasons that he can keep the trophy from residing on the States' side of the pond. 

Molinari Has a Chance to Grab a Leadership Role

The European side does not feature much in the way of experience. The Euros brought one rookie and six golfers who have participated in only one Ryder Cup.

That leaves quite a void for leadership, and Molinari has a great chance to be calming influence on the rest of the squad. He understands the pressure and the effect the crowd can have on the home team, so his steady play will be a welcome advantage for the Euros.

He Must Keep the Heat on the American Rookies

The Europeans might not have brought a ton of experience, but they have more than the Americans. In a semi-bold move, the United States have thrown out four rookies in their bid to regain some edge in this rivalry.

His first matchup includes the pairing of Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner. Johnson will be counted on to keep Dufner steady throughout his first match. So far, Dufner hasn't been intimidated. 

That's not surprising considering Dufner's Official World Golf Ranking of ninth overall. However, if Molinari can provide a little pressure and make the crowd anxious, it will create a pressure situation unlike any other Dufner has dealt with in his career. 

Letting yourself down is one thing. Letting down your teammates is an entirely different monster.

You Are Only As Strong As Your Weakest Link

It might not be fair (or completely accurate) to call Molinari the weakest link on the European side, but let's remember that this is a team that includes four of the five highest ranked golfers in the world.

Yet, if golfers never faltered from grace, Tiger Woods wouldn't be chasing Jack Nicklaus anymore. Obviously, this isn't the case. So Molinari will need to be able to carry his pairing if Lee Westwood should run into any trouble.

Will the Europeans win? That's debatable. But if they pull it off, Molinari will be one of the reasons why.