The Italian earned the accolade for a season in which he also won the Race to Dubai and played a starring role in Europe’s thumping victory over a star-studded United States team in the Ryder Cup.
“It is a huge honour to be named the Hilton European Tour Golfer of the Year. So many great names have earned this honour and I feel very proud to join them,” said Molinari, who won the Claret Jug in a riveting event at Carnoustie in July.
“It is an award that means a lot to me and is a nice way to end a very special year. Winning (the BMW PGA Championship) at Wentworth gave me a lot of confidence for the summer, but winning the Open at Carnoustie, becoming my country’s first major champion, was incredible. To then win the Race to Dubai and be part of that European Ryder Cup team in France was amazing. I’ll always look back on this season and be proud of what happened.”
Molinari was selected by a panel that included Iain Carter, the BBC’s golf correspondent, and Nick Dougherty, the Sky Sports golf presenter. According to Keith Pelley, the Euroepan Tour’s chief executive, they picked the right man.
“There is so much to celebrate after another fantastic season on the European Tour which saw so many of our members excel on the global stage and 12 in particular during a spectacular Ryder Cup,” said Pelley. “But it is right that we pay special tribute to Francesco Molinari who repeatedly made history this year. Francesco is not just a phenomenal golfer, he is a wonderful person too and throughout this season he consistently reminded us what a magnificent ambassador he is for our game. He is a thoroughly deserving winner of the 2018 Hilton European Tour Golfer of the Year award.”
Dougherty added: “There were many stand-out performances on the European Tour, including Oli Fisher’s historic 59, Tommy Fleetwood’s 63 in the final round of the US Open and Matt Wallace’s victory in Denmark when trying to earn a Ryder Cup wildcard. But they all pale compared to Francesco’s performance under pressure at Carnoustie.”