What a year it has been for Francesco Molinari. History maker, record breaker, Champion Golfer of the Year – a phenomenal season in so many ways.
But don’t just take our word for it. Here we look back at what some of his fellow professionals had to say about his key achievements in 2018.
BMW PGA Championship
Molinari’s stellar season sprung into life at Wentworth Golf Club in May. Having finished as a runner-up in the event one year before, the Italian went one better 12 months on with rounds of 70-67-66-68, including a bogey-free weekend, clinching him his first Rolex Series title by two shots, ahead of Rory McIlroy.
“He played great all weekend and bogey-free around here is some playing. He deserved the win,” said McIlroy, after their head-to-head battle in the final round.
“Huge congrats Francesco. That was a flawless exhibition and he is a totally deserved champion,” said Ross Fisher, who triumphed at Wentworth in 2009.
“Congrats Francesco on a great win. Bogey-free over the weekend, that’s some playing,” said four-time Major Champion Ernie Els.
That was only the start for Molinari. The next week he finished as a runner-up in the Italian Open in his homeland, by carding rounds of 66-66-66-65 to come close to winning back-to-back on the European Tour for the first time.
Quicken Loans National
Molinari only had to wait four weeks for his second win of the year, though, where he romped to an outstanding eight-shot victory at the Quicken Loans National – his first PGA Tour win and the first triumph by an Italian on the American circuit since 1947.
“What Francesco was doing out there was just awesome,” said Tiger Woods, who won his 80th PGA Tour title this season.
The 147th Open Championship
The winning trend continued in July when he became the first Italian to win a Major, following a memorable victory at the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Links.
With the eyes of the golfing world on him Molinari delivered when it mattered most, and playing alongside 14-time Major Champion Tiger Woods in the final round he held his nerve with a bogey-free 69 to lift the famous Claret Jug.
“He's always been a great player. I think with how he's played this year, there's just maybe a little more belief. I played with him on the final day at Wentworth, where he won, and he didn't miss a shot. He's a fantastic golfer and he's a great guy,” said McIlroy, who finished tied second at Carnoustie.
“He's been playing unbelievable golf. He's been working his butt off. I see him in the gym all the time, going through his routine, grinding on the range, doing his own stuff. It truly is hard work that paid off for Francesco. I'm certainly happy for him. I've watched him through the PGA Tour this year day in and day out, seeing him work as hard as anyone else,” said Jordan Spieth, the 2017 Open Champion.
“Francesco played really solid today. I mean, he chipped it beautifully. Great touch,” said Woods after his final round duel with Molinari.
“What a display of golf my friend! A very much deserved win. First Italian golfer to win a Major, amazing,” said Sergio Garcia, the 2017 Masters Champion.
“Congrats on winning your first Major, especially The Open. Enjoy the journey,” said two-time Open Champion Greg Norman.
The Ryder Cup
From the east coast of Scotland to south west Paris and Le Golf National for The 42nd Ryder Cup, where Molinari wrote his name into the history books.
Joining forces with Tommy Fleetwood to become the undefeated ‘Moliwood’, the duo won four out of four points, defeating Patrick Reed and Tiger Woods 3 and 1 in Friday’s Fourballs, before trouncing Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth 5 and 4 in the afternoon Foursomes.
Their dominance continued on Saturday with a 4 and 3 victory over Reed and Woods in the morning Fourballs, and then they saw off Woods and Bryson DeChambeau in the afternoon Foursomes 5 and 4.
The Sunday Singles were no different for Molinari as he defeated Phil Mickelson 4 and 2 to clinch the winning point to take Europe to the 14.5 point mark, becoming the first European player to compile a perfect 5-0 record.
“It’s like he's leaning on golf shots and they land about three feet from the hole. I don't know what planet he lives on, but it's not the one that the rest of the players live on, that's for sure. He's been phenomenal these two days,” said Thomas Bjørn, the 2018 European Ryder Cup Captain.
“I mean, Frankie's Frankie. He's unbelievable. He's gone 5-0 in a Ryder Cup. I don't know how often that's been done or if it's ever been done, but that guy is one good golfer. He deserves all the credit he gets and I think it was very fitting that he got the winning shot, as well,” said fellow ‘Moliwood’ member Fleetwood.
“I am very proud of him and it’s just unbelievable,” said his older brother Edoardo Molinari.
Race to Dubai
Following his wins at the BMW PGA Championship and The Open Championship, Molinari held the number one spot in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex ahead of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
With Fleetwood hot on his heels and needing to win to leapfrog his friend, the Italian knew a tied fifth finish or higher at the in the final Rolex Series event of the season would cap off a stunning campaign with the Race to Dubai crown.
The Englishman’s rounds of 69-67-74-68 were only good enough for a share of 16th place, leaving Molinari to claim the Race to Dubai title for the first time in his career – and become the first Italian to win the award.
“I couldn’t be happier for him for what he’s achieved this year,” said Fleetwood, the 2018 Race to Dubai Number Three.
“Awesome performance all year long Frankie. Many, many congrats pal. I know how hard you work and how much time you put in. Had the pleasure of witnessing it on a few occasions this season,” said five-time European Tour winner Ross Fisher.
“Fantastic achievement Francesco for winning the Race to Dubai. Congratulations to you and your team on an amazing season. A great competitor, but an even better man. Congrats my friend,” said Ryder Cup team mate Tyrrell Hatton.