Danny Willett wins DP World Tour Championship; Francesco Molinari Euro No. 1

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 18: Danny Willett of England poses with the DP World Tour trophy alongside Francesco Molinari of Italy posing with the Race to Dubai trophy following the final round of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 18, 2018 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images) Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Danny Willett wins DP World Tour Championship; Francesco Molinari Euro No. 1

Digital Edition

Danny Willett wins DP World Tour Championship; Francesco Molinari Euro No. 1

Danny Willett won the battle but Francesco Molinari won the war. It’s been a fantastic 2018 season for both players – but for different reasons.

Willett ended two years of misery to win the $8 million DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, his first victory since the 2016 Masters. His 18-under 270 total gave him a two-shot win over fellow Englishman Matt Wallace and Patrick Reed. Molinari finished 26th and was crowned European No. 1 to punctuate the season of his life.

Molinari arrived for the final event of the 2018 European season with a million-plus points lead over reigning European No. 1 Tommy Fleetwood in the Race to Dubai. Fleetwood had to win and hope Molinari finished worse than fifth to hang on to his crown.

When Fleetwood stepped off the course tied for 17th (he eventually finished 16th), it meant Molinari had achieved another first. After becoming the first Italian major winner, the first Italian to win on the PGA Tour, the first European player – Italian or otherwise – to win five points out of five in a Ryder Cup, the Turin native punctuated the year by winning the Harry Vardon Trophy by finishing atop the 2018 money list.

“It’s incredible,” Molinari said. “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.”

Fitting words from a fitting champion.

Willett was also a fitting champion after all he’s been through since slipping on the green jacket.

The 31-year-old reached a high of ninth on the Official World Golf Ranking in October 2016 after making his Ryder Cup debut. He sank to 462nd this May as he fought swing problems and injuries. He arrived in Dubai ranked 276th, but will now move back inside the top 100.

The former Walker Cup player finished second on the money list in 2015 and 2016. He entered the final event of both seasons with a chance to finish European No. 1. He sank to 96th last year while in the depths of his despair. He turned up in Dubai ranked 53rd and finishes the year 20th thanks to his comeback victory.

“It’s been a lot of hard work,” an emotional Willett said. “It’s been tough. I’m just massively proud of myself and everyone that’s been around me.

“You never quite know when a win is around the corner and with all the things that have happened, I was never quite sure if it was going to happen again. … It’s been a hell of a lot of work and it’s just nice to be back.” Gwk

Latest

More Digital Edition
Home