Molinari: Race to Dubai success would not surpass Ryder Cup glory with Fleetwood

Even if he beats Tommy Fleetwood in the Race to Dubai, Francesco Molinari’s most-cherished memory of 2018 will be his Ryder Cup success alongside the Englishman.

Molinari sits top of the standings and only needs a top-five finish at the DP World Tour Championship to depose Europe team-mate and close friend Fleetwood, who must win the tournament and hope the Italian fails to achieve his objective in order to retain the title.

The pair were dubbed ‘Moliwood’ after winning all four of their matches as a pairing at the Ryder Cup as Europe reclaimed the trophy with a 17.5-10.5 win over United States.

They will be going head to head when they tee off together on Thursday, but Molinari said finishing at the top of the standings would not surpass his achievements with Fleetwood at Le Golf National.

“I know we said this and we’re going to sound really cheesy but if I don’t win, I’d rather see him win than anyone else,” said the Open champion in Dubai on Wednesday.

“We really are good friends and he’s had an amazing season. To think that he won last year and to come here, still with a chance to win two in a row, it’s incredible, really.

“So fair play to him. What I can say for me is that it’s been a great season and however it goes this week, I’m still going to have lots of great memories from all of what I’ve done this year, and probably the best memory is what we’ve done together with him in France.

“I can’t really be mad at him, even if he wins.”

Fleetwood, who revealed the pair joked about the situation in the build-up to the event at Jumeirah Golf Estates, would be similarly content to miss out on glory at the hands of Molinari.

“There was a little bit [of banter] last week, but it was the first time I had really spoke about it. I think all of a sudden it’s came down to just us two that can win it, and those are the only two scenarios,” said Fleetwood on Tuesday.

“We’ve literally never mentioned it until last week and then made a couple of 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 see that we have a chance. Great for us as friends. You know you’re going out there with the sort of the person that you’re closest with on Tour, trying to win the biggest prize that we play for.

“It’s a 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.”