Francesco Molinari named 2018 SPOTY World Sports Star

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Francesco Molinari was named World Sport Star at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards on Sunday night after topping an online vote. 

Molinari beat out US gymnast Simone Biles, Czech skier and snowboarder Ester Ledecka, and Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk as he became the first golfer to claim the award in 18 years.

Molinari made history earlier this year as he became the first Italian major winner at the 147th Open at Carnoustie, before a flawless Ryder Cup performance saw him become the first ever European player to win 5/5 matches. 

Adding to his list of accolades in 2018 was his first ever PGA Tour victory and a win at the European Tour's flagship BMW PGA Championship, all culminating in him claiming the European Tour's season long Race to Dubai crown. 

Molinari, who came out on top of an online vote, is the first Italian to win the World Sport Star of the Year award (formerly known as the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year), and is the first golfer to win it since Tiger Woods in 2000.

"It's unreal, to be honest," said Molinari of the award. 

"I'm super proud to be here tonight. There are so many inspirational sporting stories. It gives us more motivation for next season."

Geraint Thomas, who won the Tour de France earlier this year, took home the main prize of the evening, while there were plenty of complaints that Women's British Open winner Georgia Hall was snubbed of a nomination.