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Molinari's the main course

by Robert Green

December 17, 2018

To absolutely nobody's surprise, Francesco Molinari was last week named the European Tour's Golfer of the Year, an award sponsored by Hilton, whose hotel in London's Park Lane was where the ceremony and lunch took place. The accolade was never in doubt. The 36-year-old Italian enjoyed a truly sensational season. Had he not walked away with the honours it would have been a bigger shock than Donald Trump's election win.

Molinari's the main course © Matthew Harris / TGPL

- Matthew Harris / TGPL

Molinari won his first major championship with victory in the Open Championship at Carnoustie in July, playing the final round in the company of Tiger Woods, whom he overhauled on the back nine, where he effectively clinched victory with a birdie at the final hole. Two months later he became the first European player to win all his five Ryder Cup matches as he was a hugely fundamental factor in his team's triumph over the United States at Le Golf National. Four of those wins were achieved in partnership with Tommy Fleetwood, whom he succeeded in November as winner of the season-long Race to Dubai. Before all that excitement, Molinari had won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May by two shots from Rory McIlroy and he had secured an eight-shot win at the Quicken Loans National to notch up his maiden win on the PGA Tour.

“It is a huge honour to win this,” said Molinari at the Hilton. “So many great names have earned this honour and I feel very proud to join them. Obviously winning the Open, becoming my country's first major champion, was incredible. To go on to win the Race to Dubai and be part of that European Ryder Cup team in France was amazing. I will always look back on this season and be proud of what happened.”

On Wednesday evening in Rome, Molinari will receive the highest sporting honour in Italy, the Collare d'Oro al Merito Sportivo , which ordinarily only goes to Olympic champions of special esteem. Probably needless to say, he is the first golfer to be so acknowledged. Meanwhile, last night he was voted the World Sport Star of the Year at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year Awards. The speeches are never-ending; the trophies keep flooding in. Speaking of which…

…in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, Will Greenwood, the former England rugby international (a member of the team that won the 2003 World Cup), wrote of the overall ‘SPOTY' competition, which was in fact claimed last night by the Tour de France champion, Geraint Thomas: “It's time to change the rules – several Britons are worthy candidates but [Francesco] Molinari has had an epic year. Brilliant winning the Open at Carnoustie, and a hero at the Ryder Cup to help Europe triumph.”

That is an interesting viewpoint, albeit one which I doubt would find favour with Nigel Farage or Jacob Rees-Mogg. Or Geraint Thomas?

You can follow Robert Green on Twitter @robrtgreen and enjoy his other blog   f-factors.com plus you can read more by him on golf at robertgreengolf.com