Carnoustie - Rory McIlroy reckons Francesco Molinari won't be short of offers when it comes to forming partnerships at the Ryder Cup following the Italian's superb victory at the Open.
Molinari held his nerve at the Carnoustie course in Scotland on Sunday to win his first major championship title, beating a top-class field by two shots.
His victory saw Molinari rise to the top of Europe's Ryder Cup standings ahead of the clash against the United States in Paris in September.
McIlroy was one of the potential title-contenders left trailing by the in-form Molinari, who last played in the Ryder Cup in 2012.
Molinari, the first Italian to win one of golf's four majors, has been in superb form this season, winning the European PGA at Wentworth and the Quicken Loans event in the United States.
"He's always been a great player but, with how he's played this year, there's just maybe a little more belief," said McIlroy of Molinari.
"I played with him the final day at Wentworth, where he won, and he didn't miss a shot.
"So there's going to be a lot of European guys vying for his partnership in the foursomes at the Ryder Cup, that's for sure. He's a fantastic golfer and he's a great guy."
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One of the other contenders was 14-time major winner Tiger Woods, who was back vying for one of golf's biggest prizes again before finishing three shots behind Molinari.
"It's not (the) Tiger that, you know, Phil (Mickelson) and Ernie (Els) and those guys had to deal with. It's a different version," said world number eight McIlroy, who ended the Open in a share of second place.
"But he (was) right there. He's getting himself in the mix. He looked good in (Washington) DC a couple weeks back (where he tied fourth at the Quicken). He's looked good here.
"He does things that maybe he didn't do 10, 15 years ago, but it's still great to have him back. It's still great for golf."
McIlroy put himself into contention with an eagle at the par-five 14th but could not claw back any more shots over the closing four holes and signed for 70.
"I don't really feel like it's a defeat," said McIlroy. "I feel like it's been a good week.
"Only one guy out of 156 is going to win, 155 other guys are going to leave a little disappointed."