Francesco Molinari has been crowned the 2018 Race to Dubai champion at the DP World Tour Championship after an unforgettable season that included his first and only Major title at The Open in July.
The Italian also added a first Rolex Series victory to his CV when he sealed the BMW PGA Championship, beating Rory McIlroy by two at Wentworth in May.
After a consistent remainder of the season, the 36 year old entered the DP World Tour Championship week knowing that only a victory for defending champion Tommy Fleetwood at Jumeirah Golf Estates could possibly deny him the Race to Dubai title.
A closing 68 was not enough to move the long-haired Englishman to the summit on the Earth course which meant Molinari became the first Italian to be crowned the European Tour’s No.1 player.
Fantastic achievement @F_Molinari for winning the @EuropeanTour #RaceToDubai
Congratulations to you and your team on an amazing year.
A great competitor, but an even better man.
Congrats my friend 😘👏🏻👏🏻
— Tyrrell Hatton (@TyrrellHatton) November 18, 2018
“It’s incredible,” said Molinari. “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 also made Ryder Cup history in Europe’s sensational victory at Le Golf National in October, becoming the first European to win the maximum five points out of five.
It was fitting that four of those points were won alongside Fleetwood as they both battled it out to be crowned the Race to Dubai champion this week. After Molinari posted a closing 71, Fleetwood hugged him and congratulated his great friend.
Molinari ended up finishing tied 26th in the final event of the season and Fleetwood finished four strokes better on 10 under par to finish tied 16th. Danny Willett sealed the title, which is his first win since Augusta in 2016, after recording an 18 under par total to beat Patrick Reed by two strokes.
Molinari, who will be heading to his family home Italy after this event, revealed that he is especially looking forward to seeing two people after securing the coveted Harry Vardon Trophy.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 18, 2018
“I’m looking forward to seeing my mom and dad to be honest, and then the rest of the family,” he said. “Obviously, we travel so much that we don’t see them very often. I’m also looking forward to bringing the Claret Jug back to Italy!
“You know, I’m clearly not the kind of guy that is going to go parade around Turin with the Claret Jug, so I’ll show it to a few friends and try to spend some quality time with the family, because then I won’t get a chance to do it during the season.”
Molinari will play on both the PGA Tour and European Tour next season and he has his heart set on doing what the other half of ‘Molliwood’ did in his defence of the Race to Dubai title this year.
“Obviously it would be great to do what Tommy did, which is really hard, and come back here next year with a chance, at least, of retaining this trophy,” said Molinari. To be honest I haven’t had much time or energy to focus on it yet, but in the next few weeks, I will make a plan.”