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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 January 2021

'Captain America' Patrick Reed leads way in Race to Dubai ahead of DP World Tour Championship

US golfer one of four players who is guaranteed – along with Fleetwood, Morikawa and Westwood – to walk away with the European No 1 gong if they win in the UAE

The man boasting the “Captain America” moniker comes into Dubai in pole position to marvel in Europe, too.

With one tournament remaining on the season-long Race to Dubai, Patrick Reed is perched at the summit, the top dog in a sprint to the finish that effectively, given the points on offer this week, comprises all 60-plus players in the field.

Reed, the 2018 Masters champion, is one of four who with victory at the DP World Tour Championship (DPWTC) is guaranteed to walk away also with the European No 1 gong.

Still, his closest rivals form a talented and treacherous trio: 2017 winner Tommy Fleetwood, current Masters champion Collin Morikawa, and two-time Order of Merit winner Lee Westwood.

If Reed, or for that matter Morikawa, prevail at Jumeirah Golf Estates on Sunday, they not only ride off into the sunset with dual honours – they conjure their own sizeable slice of history as well. Chiefly, becoming the first American to take home the season-long title.

For someone with eight professional wins and a Green Jacket topping the pile, only aged 30, it would rank as a pretty seismic achievement.

“It would definitely be up there near the top,” Reed said in a videoconference on Wednesday. “It's always been a dream of mine to not only win on the PGA Tour but also on The European Tour, and to win the FedExCup as well as the Race to Dubai.

“To be able to get one of those goals that I've had set for my career, especially this early, would be great.”

If anyone Stateside deserved to snaffle the Race to Dubai, you could argue it’s Reed. The Texan has long embraced the European Tour, hopping across the Atlantic whenever he saw fit. He has contested the DPWTC in four of the five years since debuting in 2015, finishing runner-up in 2018.

A regular Ryder Cup star for Team USA, Reed leapt into the European Tour lead by finishing tied-third at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in September – long considered the circuit’s flagship event.

“It's one of those things that I've always enjoyed coming over; I feel like the guys always like having me over here and the fans have always been very supportive,” said Reed, who endures more of a mixed bag in the US.

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Jon Rahm wins 2019 DP World Tour Championship and Race to Dubai

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“To be able to come out to an event like this, the last tournament of the year, go out and have a good showing, hopefully win this golf tournament, win the Race to Dubai, would mean a lot.

“It's an amazing feeling to be in this position. The biggest thing is, of course, we have been thinking about recently: OK, go out, win, what it can do to you and being the first American.

"But at the end of the day, when that gun goes off tomorrow it's strictly business: go out there and play shot-by-shot and try to shoot the lowest score you possibly can and see how everything falls out.

“It comes down to going out and playing some great golf. Whether I'm in the lead leading into the week or not, it's one of those that if you go out, play how you're supposed to, you have a chance to win on Sunday. And if you win the golf tournament, it's all said and done.”

In his immediate rear-view mirror, though, is Fleetwood. The Englishman has been there and done it, celebrated as European No 1 three years ago and then finishing second and third in the two seasons since.

Last year, only exquisite play from Jon Rahm prevented Fleetwood from clinching the DPWTC; the Spaniard won by a solitary shot to get his hands on both trophies.

And, although he’d obviously like to prevent some American history being made this week, Fleetwood won't bear any grudges should that crown head across the pond this year.

“Whoever wins the Race to Dubai firstly will be a worthy winner,” he said. “You name those, Collin and Patrick: Patrick has won a World Golf Championships this year, been one of the most consistent players on the planet. Collin: major winner.

“Clearly superstars, and I don't think it will do any harm whatsoever to have their names on the trophy. I'm obviously planning on that not to happen.

“It’s great to get to this stage and be competing against those. It’s one of the biggest prizes in golf. Looking forward to going against them and whoever the winner is, it will be a name worthy of going on that trophy.”

Updated: December 9, 2020 06:47 PM

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