Francesco Molinari succeeds Tommy Fleetwood as European No 1
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 18/11/18 10:57am
Francesco Molinari added another honour to his list of accolades this season as he was crowned Race to Dubai champion for the first time in his career.
Last season's champion Tommy Fleetwood was the only player in the field at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship who could deny the Italian, but the Englishman's bid for the victory he needed came up short.
Fleetwood was just three off the lead at the halfway stage before dropping eight shots off the pace following a third-round 74, and a closing 68 saw him finish on 10 under par with Thomas Pieters already in the clubhouse on 11 under.
That meant Molinari was guaranteed to succeed his Ryder Cup partner as European No 1 despite a final-round 71 which left him four strokes behind Fleetwood.
The Italian began a remarkable run of form when he held off Rory McIlroy to win the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May, and he followed that with a runner-up finish on home soil at the Italian Open.
Molinari then collected his first career PGA Tour title at the Quicken Loans National before earning the biggest win of his life and his maiden major title with a two-shot triumph in The Open at Carnoustie.
The 36-year-old was also the star of the show at the Ryder Cup in Paris, where he became the first European player in history to win all five of his matches including four with Fleetwood in Europe's resounding seven-point victory.