Molinari crowned Race to Dubai Champion


Francesco Molinari compounded his stellar season with the Race to Dubai crown, adding it to his list of achievements in 2018 that include winning his first major championship

Francesco Molinari completed the best season of his career on Sunday as he added the title of Race to Dubai champion to a list of accolades that includes becoming the Champion golfer of the year and making history with a 5-0-0 record at the Ryder Cup. 

"It's incredible," said Molinari of his year. "Now I'm going to have time to sit down and relax and really think back about the last few months.

"This morning on the first tee the announcement is the winner of The Open Championship, Race to Dubai leader, it doesn't sound real at the moment.

"It's more than I ever dreamed of achieving. I've seen guys that I think are better players than me not winning Majors and not winning Order of Merits or Race to Dubais. To achieve those things in one single season is just incredible."

Molinari began the year slowly but picked up his first win of the season at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, beating out Rory McIlroy by two shots on an impressive final day. And that would just be the start. 

He would end up second the following week at the Italian Open before claiming his first PGA Tour victory at the Quicken Loans National, and went on to finish as the runner-up at the John Deere Classic sooner after. 

It was then he headed to Carnoustie, playing the final round with a resurgent Tiger Woods and producing some excellent play over the closing holes to become Italy's first major champion. From there, he became the first European Ryder Cup player in history to win five points from five matches. 

"We've been doing very well this year when it comes to the challenges. I never won a Ryder Cup match and I won five out of five. Carnoustie was really not my favourite place, to say the least, before this year, and I go there and win."

At the start of the week it was just defending title holder Tommy Fleetwood who had the potential to stand in the path of Molinari's hopes of becoming European No.1, a fitting end to a Ryder Cup year that will be remembered for the 4-0-0 partnership of 'Moliwood'. 

The duo were paired together for the opening round and it was Molinari who gained the intial advantage with a four-under opening round of 68, yet struggled to find that same for for the remainder of the tournament. Fleetwood gave himself a chance with an impressive second-round 67, but when he stumbled to a third-round 74, the crown was all but guaranteed to belong to the Italian. 

"It's tough in a way because it would have been probably easier in a way to play against anyone else but him (Fleetwood). I know how talented he is and I really thought at some point he was going to win it and put me in a tough spot.

"He's obviously a great guy and a super talented player and I'm sure being younger than me, he's going to win a few more Race to Dubais."

Molinari ended the tournament in a tie for 26th place, but it was more than enough to finish the season as Europe's No.1 as Danny Willett achieved his first win since claiming the green jacket back in April 2016.