Sports

Two-time Major champ, Morikawa could become first American to be European No. 1

V Krishnaswamy | Updated on November 17, 2021

American Collin Morikawa (left) with Keith Pelley, the European Tour Commissioner

This is one of those weeks, when a European Tour event has greater depth in the field and more Official World Ranking points than an event on the PGA Tour. With the two Tours coming closer than ever in 2021, two Americans begin as strong favourites to become European Tour No. 1 at the Jumeirah Estates, Earth Course in Dubai.

The Americans are led by World No. 1 Collin Morikawa, who this week has been awarded Honorary Life Membership of the European Tour in recognition of his debut Open Championship victory at Royal St Georges in July.

Morikawa goes into this week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship as leader of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

In 2021 he won the Claret Jug at the first attempt, with a two-shot victory over his Ryder Cup teammate Jordan Spieth at Sandwich. It was the second time he had captured one of golf’s four Major Championships in his first appearance, having also claimed a debut win in the 2020 US PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

Morikawa, who also won the WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession in February, will this week hope to round off a fine individual season by becoming the first American winner of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Morikawa is the fifth American to be given Honorary Life Membership, following in the footsteps of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Patrick Reed.

Morikawa said: “Two-and-a-half years ago when I turned pro, I had no clue what life was going to put in front of me, but I'm very thankful for what I’ve been able to accomplish. Obviously, the world has gone through many changes, but this means a lot and I have to say thanks to the European Tour.

“We want to grow the game as much as we can, and this is an important piece of that. So I'm going to honour this and this is going to be very special and it is definitely a top highlight since turning pro, so thank you.”

While any of the players in the 53-man field can end the week as DP World Tour Champion, only six can finish the season as European Number One.

Morikawa currently leads the Race to Dubai. A win would see him make history as the first American to win the season long rankings, but mathematically he could finish last this week, and still be crowned champion, depending on where the other five players end up.

Just 236 points behind Morikawa is fellow American Horschel, who captured the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in September. While a win would guarantee the top spot, he could finish as high as eighth and still have a chance, provided Morikawa struggles and the four players below him don’t win.

For Tyrrell Hatton, Min Woo Lee, Paul Casey and defending DP World Tour Champion Matt Fitzpatrick, only a win could guarantee their chance at being crowned Race to Dubai Champion. However, even with victory at the final event of the year, they will need a little help from both Morikawa and Horschel.

Published on November 17, 2021

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