The Ryder Cup star and Race to Dubai, Open and BMW PGA Champion has been named as the European Tour's Player of the Year

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Francesco Molinari Named European Tour Player Of The Year 2018

Francesco Molinari has been named as the 2018 European Tour Golfer of the Year, as voted by the golfing media.

Molinari is the recipient of the distinguished prize following a phenomenal 12 months on the European Tour in which he secured the BMW PGA Championship, his maiden Major title at The 147th Open Championship and played a starring role in Europe’s Ryder Cup win in France.

The Italian’s first triumph of a memorable 2018 came at Wentworth where he finished two shots clear of Rory McIlroy to win the BMW PGA Championship, having finished runner-up in the event 12 months previously.

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Molinari’s BMW PGA Championship triumph was the biggest win of his career at the time

He came close to adding another victory the following week by carding rounds 66-66-66-65 to finish runner-up to his Ryder Cup teammate Thorbjørn Olesen in the Italian Open.

The 36-year-old’s standout performance in 2018 would come in July, though, where, playing alongside 14-time Major Champion Tiger Woods, he held his nerve in tricky conditions at Carnoustie by carding a bogey-free final round of 69 to lift the Claret Jug and become the first Italian to win a Major.

He became the first ever Italian Major winner in 2018

He went bogey-free for the final 36 holes and secured victory with a nerveless birdie on the 72nd hole.

He followed that with another top-10 finish in August at the USPGA Championship, before creating more history in The Ryder Cup the following month, forming a memorable partnership with Tommy Fleetwood en route to becoming the first European to win all five points from his five matches against the USA.

Molinari produced one of the greatest Ryder Cup performances in history at Le Golf National. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Fittingly, it was also Molinari’s victory over Phil Mickelson in the Sunday Singles at Le Golf National which reclaimed the Ryder Cup for Europe.

Molinari then rounded off a remarkable year by becoming the first Italian to win the Race to Dubai, holding off Masters Champion Patrick Reed and defending Race to Dubai Champion Fleetwood to finish the year as the European Tour’s number one.

He finished the year as Europe’s number one. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

As well as his European Tour successes in 2018, Molinari also captured his maiden PGA Tour title in early July at the Quicken Loans National, where he won by eight strokes.

He also reached a career-high 5th in the world.

The Italian follows on from Sergio Garcia as the European Tour Player of the Year.

Other recent winners include: Henrik Stenson (2016, 2013), Rory Mcilroy (2015, 2014, 2012) and Luke Donald (2011).

What they said –

Francesco Molinari:

“It is a huge honour to be named the Hilton European Tour Golfer of the Year. So many great names have earned this honour and I feel very proud to join them.

“It is an award that means a lot to me and is a nice way to end a very special year. Winning at Wentworth, in one of our biggest events, gave me a lot of confidence for the summer, but obviously winning The Open at Carnoustie, becoming my country’s first Major Champion, was incredible.

“To then go on to win the Race to Dubai and be part of that European Ryder Cup team in France was amazing. I’ll always look back on this season and be proud of what happened.”

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive Officer of the European Tour:

“There is so much to celebrate after another fantastic season on the European Tour which saw so many of our Members excel on the global stage and 12 in particular during a spectacular Ryder Cup in France.

“But it is right that we pay special tribute to Francesco Molinari who repeatedly made history this year.

“Francesco is not just a phenomenal golfer, he is a wonderful person too and throughout this season he consistently reminded us what a magnificent ambassador he is for our game. He is a thoroughly deserving winner of the 2018 Hilton European Tour Golfer of the Year award.”

Iain Carter, BBC Golf Correspondent, who was part of the panel:

“The list of monthly winners and nominees for this year’s award shows the depth in talent and nationalities on the European Tour. Matt Wallace made a compelling argument with three victories and Patrick Reed also merited massive consideration after winning the Masters, but Francesco Molinari’s story in 2018 was absolutely outstanding.

“To win at Wentworth, then lift the Claret Jug at Carnoustie, and then back that up by winning five points at The Ryder Cup and win the Race to Dubai is up there as one of the great years in European golf.

“Francesco has always been one of Europe’s elite players, but in 2018 he became a global superstar and separated himself from his peers.”

Fellow panelist Nick Dougherty, Sky Sports Golf Presenter:

“There were many stand-out performances on the European Tour in 2018, including Oli Fisher’s historic 59, Tommy Fleetwood’s 63 in the final round of the US Open and Matt Wallace’s victory in Denmark when trying to earn a Ryder Cup wildcard.

“But they all pale into insignificance compared to Francesco’s performance under pressure at Carnoustie. That felt special, particularly his putt on the 18th when you look at who he was playing with.

“He also won at Wentworth, which is massive when you look at the list of previous winners there, and then he produced that performance at Le Golf National.

“Francesco had a monumental year and he did it all with a smile on his face.”