Francesco Molinari savours winning Race to Dubai in career-best year
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 18/11/18 11:39am
Francesco Molinari savoured another "incredible" achievement in his sensational 2018 season after being officially crowned Race to Dubai champion.
Molinari finished the season as European No 1 after his Ryder Cup partner, Tommy Fleetwood, was unable to claim the win he needed at the DP World Tour Championship to retain his overall title ahead of the Italian.
Fleetwood's chances effectively ended with a third-round 74 in which he failed to make a birdie, although he did bounce back with a closing 68 as he finished the season finale four strokes ahead of Molinari, who again looked fatigued as he capped the best year of his career with a solid 71.
But with Fleetwood one shot off the clubhouse lead, Molinari was already guaranteed to add the Race to Dubai trophy to his collection of silverware this year, including his maiden major title at The Open which followed his win at the BMW PGA Championship.
"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.
"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."
Molinari also paid tribute to close friend Fleetwood, with whom he won four matches out of four at the Ryder Cup before earning Europe's winning point against Phil Mickelson in Sunday's single and becoming the first European to win five points in one contest.
"It's tough in a way because it would have been probably easier in a way to play against anyone else but Tommy," he added. "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.
"It was challenging this week because obviously you try not to, but you are always keeping an eye on what Tommy is doing and I did it very well the first day. I think probably some adrenaline, as well, got me going a little bit more, and just hit a wall the last few holes and never really recovered from that.
"It's been a very, very long season, travelling across the ocean a lot of times, and playing a lot of tournaments. I can't wait to sit down and relax and really process what's happened in the last few months.
"It's going to take a while to get used to, but I'm looking forward at the same time to next year and I'm sure that there's more good golf to come from me. Hopefully we will see already next year."