In Brief

‘Moliwood’ ready for European Tour Race to Dubai title battle

Ryder Cup heroes Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood compete to become Europe’s No.1 golfer

DP World Tour Championship
  • What: European Tour’s season-ending event 
  • When: 15-18 November 
  • Where: Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE

They were Ryder Cup playing partners just a few months ago but this week Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood will go head-to-head to finish top of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai rankings.

The Team Europe heroes played a starring role in the sensational Ryder Cup victory over Team USA in France in September. Their partnership on the course and “bromance” off it has seen the duo now collectively be known as “Moliwood”.

After a superb season, in which he won The Open, Italian star Molinari leads the European Tour’s Race to Dubai rankings ahead of reigning champion Fleetwood.

The DP World Tour Championship is the final tournament of the 2018 European Tour season and it starts tomorrow at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. It’s the next chapter in the “Moliwood” blockbuster.

Dream season for Molinari

World No.6 Molinari is aiming to finish his best-ever year on a high. Speaking ahead of the Dubai finale, the 36-year-old said: “It feels incredible. It’s a new position for me and, obviously, it’s just a consequence and a sign of an incredible season.

“I would have never guessed that I would be here in this position if you told me in April or May this year, but it’s been an incredible summer, topped by an unbelievable Ryder Cup.

“It’s been a dream season for me, and it’s nice to be here in this position. Hopefully I’ll be able to close it out. I know it’s not going to be easy, and I’m not making any assumptions, but I’ll do my best on the course to do the job.”

How Fleetwood can finish No.1

Fleetwood needs to win the final tournament in Dubai and for Molinari to finish outside of the top five. Should this happen the Englishman will overtake his great friend and top the season rankings.

With Molinari leading the rankings with 4,709,921 points, 27-year-old Fleetwood knows that his great friend is the favourite to take his crown.

The world No.10, who is in second place with 3,684,755 points, said: “The maths are pretty clear. It’s in Fran’s hands, but it’s another week, another start, where I’m hopefully going to be up there on Sunday. I’ve just got to focus on this tournament. Focus on what we have to do to win, and move on from there.

“It’s a massively tall order, but at the same time, if we had teed off on the first hole in Hong Kong last year, which is the first event of the year, and they said, ‘look, you need to win last the tournament [to have a chance to win the Race to Dubai] - if you actually read out the full scenario - I’m pretty sure you’d say, ‘yeah, okay, I’ll give it a go from there’.”

‘It’s great for us as friends’

The duo will tee off at 8.40am (UK time) in the final pairing of tomorrow’s first round at the DP World Tour Championship.

Fleetwood admits that there’s been a bit of banter with Molinari about who will win the No.1 spot. “There was a little bit last week, but it was the first time I had really spoken about it,” he said. “All of a sudden it’s come down to just the two of us that can win it [the Race to Dubai].

“We’ve literally never mentioned it until last week but since then we’ve made a few jokes about it. It’s funny, he’ll say it’s in my hands and I’ll say it’s in his. That’s just how it will be!”

“It’s a very good thing that we’ll be teeing off on Thursday together and that we both have a chance to win the Race to Dubai. It’s great for us as friends. You’re going out there with the person that you’re closest with on Tour, trying to win the biggest prize that we play for.

“So it’s nice thing and if it doesn’t work out for me, I couldn’t be happier for him for what he’s achieved this year.”

How to watch on TV

Sky Sports Golf will broadcast live from the DP World Tour Championship. Sky’s first-round coverage starts tomorrow at 7am.

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