History-maker Collin Morikawa sets sights on yet more success after superb Dubai double

Open champion wins DP World Tour Championship to become first American to seal Race to Dubai

The exclamation mark placed emphatically on an unbelievable year on the European Tour, Collin Morikawa was then asked what he could do in 2022 for an encore.

“Win more,” said the world No 2, moments after winning everything in Dubai.

Morikawa had prevailed at the DP World Tour Championship on Sunday, capturing the circuit’s season-ending event to in turn clinch the Race to Dubai. In doing so, he became the first American in history to finish a campaign as European No1.

His season may have one more stop to run – the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas – but Morikawa could call it quits here and put the feet up. After all, he has plenty to rest his Footjoys on.

A third victory this calendar year followed a first World Golf Championships win and a second major, the Open in July. In Dubai on Sunday, Morikawa’s masterful finish – he birdied five of the closing seven holes to eventually prosper by three shots – claimed not only the two titanic trophies on offer, but a cool $4 million, too. That $3m for the tournament was supplemented rather nicely by the $1m Race to Dubai bonus.

So, 2022? Try beating that.

“It's not an encore,” Morikawa, 24, said. “It's not a swansong farewell to what I'm doing in 2021. I'm going to set some high goals again. 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. 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.”

Given his play on the Earth Course, especially as the heat cranked up coming down the stretch, no one would surely argue. Beginning the day three behind leader Rory McIlroy, Morikawa had to wait until the 7th to register a first birdie.

Another on 12 raised hope of the Dubai double, despite defending tournament champion Matt Fitzpatrick threatening to spoil the party as he raced through his first 11 holes in 7-under. A win in the event, and Morikawa finishing outside the top nine, would have been enough to secure the Englishman the Order of Merit instead.

However, from 15, Morikawa was imperious. With Race to Dubai almost confirmed, a 15-footer for birdie on 17 prompted a mighty fist pump and practically settled the event also. Morikawa then birdied 18 for good measure, closing with 6-under-par 66 and increasing his total to 17-under. And, ultimately, a three-shot victory.

Fitzpatrick and Sweden’s Alexander Bjork were tied-second; McIlroy, meanwhile, bogeyed three of the final holes to finish five back, in a tie for sixth.

If the two-time winner's torn T-shirt post-round underlined his mood, Morikawa’s was understandably the polar opposite.

“It feels so good,” he said. “I would be lying to you if I said I wasn't watching what Matt Fitzpatrick was doing today. Boy, did he put on a run.

“It's an honour, really, to be the first American to do that on the European Tour, to put my name against many, many great Hall of Famers. I get touched up just talking about that.

“Two years ago, it wasn't my thought. It was, ‘Yeah, let's go play around the world’, but we didn't know what the cards were going to be dealt. To have this chance and finally close it out, and not just closing it out with a top 10 or something, but to actually win the DP World Tour Championship, which concluded with the Race to Dubai, not a better way to finish."

However, as Morikawa was at pains to point out, he plans for much, much more to come.

“Look, the way my head is wired, I'm always looking for what's next,” he smiled. “But I'm going to try to enjoy this one as much as I can. This one is special.”

Updated: November 21st 2021, 3:02 PM
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