Moliwood go head to head: Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood set to face off in Dubai this week in battle for European crown
It’s the head to head battle we didn’t know we needed, but Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari are the last two standing in the season long European Tour title race as it makes the final stop in Dubai this week.
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The pair became an internet sensation dubbed ‘Moliwood’ as they partnered for an unbeaten 4-0-0 record in the Ryder Cup, helping Europe to an historic victory and making one of the most hilariously memorable, tongue-and-cheek post-match videos.
Both players sat out last week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, where Lee Westwood claimed his first victory on the European Tour in more than four years. In addition to his win, he denied Haotong Li (T5), Lucas Bjerregaard (T11) and Rory McIlroy (T21) the chance at becoming European No.1, with Li and Bjerregaard needing a win and McIlroy runner-up or better in Sun City to have a shot at the title this week.
As a result only Moliwood are left standing in the battle for the Race to Dubai title, and while Fleetwood hopes to become the first person since Rory McIlroy to successfully defend the accolade, the advantage lies heavily in favour of the Open Champion.
Separated by 1,025,166 points in the Race to Dubai rankings presented by Rolex, Fleetwood will need to win in Dubai on Sunday and hope that Molinari finishes worse than a two-way tie for fifth place.
“It's different for me this year," Fleetwood said about his chances to win. "The biggest difference is it's not in my hands. It's just great to have that excitement surrounding the event again, it really is. You've come this far and to have a chance, as little as it is - and it's not a big chance and it's not in my hands at all - but you know it's there and you're teeing off on Thursday with a chance at winning the biggest prize of the year.
"It was a lot closer last year. I had never experienced anything like that playing for a year-long event. I was nervous Thursday, then it changed for Friday, Saturday, and then Sunday again. I think it showed last year, I kind of stumbled over the line but got over the line.
"Hopefully, come the back nine on Sunday this year, I have a chance and I end up having a great week and I'm playing well, and I can give Frank something to think about. But just knowing that you have a chance and you're in a tournament to win it - I am chasing and there’s a lot of freedom in that.”
But while the race for the ultimate prize is between the two great friends, there's still plenty to play for as those who finish in the top 10 in the rankings at the end of the season will take a share of the $5million Race to Dubai bonus pool.
The current top 10 include the likes of Masters Champion Patrick Reed and FedEx Cup Champion Justin Rose, while two-time European Tour winner Eddie Pepperell occupies 10th place. However, Lucas Bjerregaard, Tyrrell Hatton and Jon Rahm aren't far behind and are all teeing up this week.
Current Race to Dubai Standings