Collin Morikawa – photo Getty Images
What a special period the last 15 months have been for 24 year old American, Collin Morikawa.
In that time, Morikawa has won the PGA Championship, the Open Championship, a World Golf Championship event and recorded 11 other top tens on the PGA Tour and now this win at the lucrative final event of the 2021 European Tour season.
The current world number two golfer not only won the DP World Tour Championship, but he claimed the Race to Dubai title and the accompanying bonuses, a final round of 66 moving him from an overnight 5th place to a three-shot victory over England’s Matt Fitzpatrick and Sweden’s Alexander Bjork.
Still trailing by three shots through nine holes, five birdies in his last even holes at the Jumeirah’s Estates Earth Course in Dubai swept him past third round leader and two-time winner of this event, Rory McIlroy, who bogeyed three of his last four holes, and the man who appeared the likely challenger to McIlroy at the halfway stage today, Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick, though, would lose his chance with bogeys at the 16th and 17th before a birdie at the last gave him a share of second place with Bjork who would also birdie the last to share the runner-up spoils.
“It’s so special,” said Californina Morikawa, the first American to win the event. “You know, I came here last time, first time to Dubai, obviously not having played too many European Tour events, and I told everyone that I wanted to come out here and win: Win the and win The Race to Dubai and win the DP World Tour Championship, and I had it in my control this week. Obviously if I won, I would have sealed the deal, and that’s all I focused on really.
“I couldn’t really get my head too focussed on The Race to Dubai. I knew there were many, many scenarios that could have happened. But I wanted to come out here and win. I felt like my game has been in a really good spot over the past kind of the last month and a half since The Ryder Cup, so you know, overall, it’s just an amazing win, really special.
Morikawa is not one to rest on his laurels, however, and when asked how he would follow up such a year he responded, “Win more. It’s not an encore. It’s not a swansong farewell to what I’m doing in 2021. I’m going to set some high goals high. I always have. I’m going to set the bar as high as I can get and keep going.
“I’m still not No. 1 in the world. I still have a lot to work on in my game. Obviously this week was good. I still thought I wasn’t playing amazing, but I made do. I was able to make some putts here and there. Hit some great chip shots. Made up-and-down and made some crucial par saves out here and that’s what you need.
“So I still think there’s a ton to work on. That’s just kind of the nature of how my mind works and how I work: I just want more. I know I’m going to enjoy this one a lot, especially since it’s at the end of the year, but there’s a lot more from me hopefully.”
Morikawa can move past Jon Rahm and claim the world number one spot if he was to win the Hero World Challenge in two weeks’ time although that might only be short lived as Rahm is expected to regain the title the following week.
“I am definitely aware of that. Hopefully we can get there, you know, even if it’s just for that one week. I’m sure we’re still going to have many chances hopefully come next year.
“And it’s been a goal. It has been a goal since before I could even remember and started talking about turning professional, and then want to go play golf is that you want to be the best in the world, right. And I’ve been very lucky. I’ve played very well. I’ve done some good things so far.
“But you know, it takes a lot to get to No. 1 in the world. You need to be a well-rounded golfer, a well-rounded person to get there, and there’s been a lot of great players that haven’t and that just shows how tough it is.”
For Australians Minwoo Lee (16th) and Lucas Herbert and Jason Scrivener (21st) the week might not have gone as well as they had hoped but they have each completed their best seasons in Europe, Lee finishing 7th in the Race to Dubai, Scrivener 21st and Herbert 22nd, with both Lee and Herbert winning significant events in Europe.
The European Tour begins its new season this coming week when the Joburg Open is played in South Africa followed by the South African Open and the Alfred Dunhill event in that country.
Interestingly, the European Tour now becomes known as the DP World Tour following a partnership between the Tour and DP World, its new naming rights sponsor.
In 2022, the DP World Tour will represent a truly international schedule, that will feature a minimum of 47 tournaments in 27 different countries, including new tournaments in the UAE, Japan, South Africa and Belgium and an expanded Rolex Series comprising five events: the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic, the Genesis Scottish Open, the BMW PGA Championship and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Whether such partnerships and their sole focus are a good thing remains to be seen but the total prizemoney available for the 2022 season goes beyond US$200 million for the first occasion.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 21, 2021