An already unforgettable year for Champion Golfer Francesco Molinari got even sweeter for the Italian in November as he added more accolades to his list of honours.
Molinari’s remarkable run of form in 2018 started when he held off Rory McIlroy to lift the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth before finishing second at the Italian Open.
He then collected his first career PGA Tour title at the Quicken Loans National, before delivering a flawless performance at Carnoustie to claim his maiden major title at The 147th Open.
The 36-year-old earned further plaudits at the Ryder Cup in Paris, where he became the first European player in history to win all five of his matches to hand Europe a resounding win.
But rather than letting an incredible season tail off, Molinari capped off his year by being crowned Race to Dubai champion for the first time in his career.
Here’s everything you might have missed from the Claret Jug winner in November.
A birthday to remember
The month began with Molinari celebrating his 36th birthday, having already received the best present possible in July when he claimed The Open title at Carnoustie.
He marked the occasion by posting an appropriate GIF of Matt Damon aging quickly from the classic film Saving Private Ryan as he thanked everyone for their birthday wishes.There was no doubt what the highlight of his year was, though, as he reflected on being crowned Champion Golfer: “It’s a really big moment for me and the people around me.
“You work all your life to get here and it really gives a meaning to what you do and what you’ve done all this time. I feel really proud of the way I handled myself.”
Ahead of the season ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, Molinari and his team put plenty of time in on the range to get him ready for his attempt to win the Race of Dubai.
There was also a chance for the victorious European team to celebrate their Ryder Cup success as they reunited for a meal – with the famous trophy also taking a place at the table.
Race to Dubai winner
The Champion Golfer of the Year went into the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in pole position to claim the Race to Dubai crown.
Only his Ryder Cup team-mate Tommy Fleetwood, who he joined up with at Le Golf National in Paris to win all four of their matches together, could stop him from lifting the coveted prize.
Fleetwood needed to win the season finale and for Molinari to finish worse than tied fifth to deny him the honour of becoming the first Italian to be crowned the European Tour’s top player.
But defending champion Fleetwood was unable to maintain his challenge, leaving the path clear for Molinari to cap off an already remarkable year with another title to his name.
Molinari ultimately finished in a tie for 26th as Danny Willett won the tournament and the Claret Jug holder was understandably overwhelmed when asked to reflect on his latest achievement.
“I've seen guys that I think are better players than me not winning majors and not winning Order of Merits or Race to Dubai. To achieve those things in one single season is just incredible.”
Golf Digest cover star
There was only ever going to be one contender for Golf Digest’s final cover of 2018 as Molinari’s best ever year as a professional golfer was recognised by the American publication.
It was an honour the man himself was very proud to have been given, taking to Twitter to express his delight, and Molinari also provided a fascinating insight into his improvement off the tee.
The Italian has picked up 20 yards with the driver over the past three seasons on the PGA Tour without harming his reputation for finding the fairway with relentless regularity.
Working tirelessly with his coach Denis Pugh, he added 6mph of ball speed to his driving this season by rotating his right hip in unison with his trunk to make an unrestricted turn.
“I used to feel so much tighter, more tension in my back muscles, now I have much more freedom of movement,” said Molinari, who averaged 301 yards off the tea on the PGA Tour last season.
“My right shoulder used to stay back as I swung down,” he said. “Then the club would race out in front of me. Now I’m really trying to feel a lot more shoulder rotation in the downswing.”