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Collin Morikawa makes more golf history: first American to finish No.1 in Europe
The Cal alumnus uses a late charge to win the DP World Tour Championship, also clinching the Race to Dubai title
Make room for not one but two new trophies, Collin Morikawa!
The 24-year-old Cal Men’s Golf alum may have just graduated from Cal in 2019, but he is collecting golf achievements at a meteoric pace in just 2.5 years as a professional.
Making five birdies in the last seven holes, Morikawa won his 6th professional golf championship by finishing the DP World Tour Championship from the Jumeriah Golf Estates in Dubai with a 3-shot victory. While this win does not count as a “PGA Tour” win (he still leads all Cal alumni with 5 there), Collin Morikawa was able to become the first American to finish 1st in the European Tour (currently named DP World Tour) and earn the Race to Dubai (formerly known as “Order of Merit”) title.
For our younger and/or less geographically-knowledgable readers, the city of Dubai, which is in the nation of United Arab Emirates on the continent of Asia, threw a lot of sponsor money into the European Tour. Dubai hosts the season-ending championship and is in the name of the main European Tour title despite being in a different continent than the name-sake tour.
The European Tour win gives him the Harry Vardon Trophy (the large tower with a golfer on top). The European Tour year-ending DP World Tour Championship win gives him a scepter. Collin Morikawa will also leave Dubai, more than $4 million richer.
This is Collin Morikawa’s 3rd individual win this year, after his 2nd Major title at the (British) Open Championship (which earned him major points toward this European Title) and the big-money WGC Championship.
For the “Race to Dubai” title, which is somewhat paradoxically named because it was not decided until this final event when the contenders are all in Dubai already, Collin Morikawa was in the driver’s seat coming into this week. A strong performance in the first three days/rounds puts Morikawa at just 3-shot back in a 4-way tie for 5th place going into the final round. His closest competitor coming into this final tournament, Billy Horschel, was all the way back in 37th place.
In this final round, English golfer Matt Fitzpatrick had a hot start to even take the lead after the 15th hole; Fitzpatrick would need to win while Morikawa finished in 9th or lower to claim The Race to Dubai. Aware of Fitzpatrick’s feat (Collin admits to some scoreboard watching in the post-tournament interviews), Morikawa finally caught fire starting in the 12th hole.
You can watch the 13-minute long highlight video of Collin Morikawa’s final round below.
Living up to his reputation as the best iron player in the world right now, Morikawa made several brilliant iron shots late to claim the lead from Rory McIlroy, who had been leading the tournament all week long. Morikawa’s birdie on the 15th ties him with McIlroy, who was playing two holes behind.
McIlroy’s shot on 15th unluckily ricocheted off the pin and into the bunker eventually turning into a bogey. Morikawa was able to build up a 2-shot lead with another clutch birdie on the 17th.
An easy tap-in on the 18th was all that was needed to clinch the two titles for Collin Morikawa.
On his latest professional golf feat, Morikawa said, “It's special, it's an honor, really, to be the first American to do that on the European Tour to put my name against many, many great Hall of Famers, it's special. I get touched up just talking about that.”
Morikawa also had a long shot at the Race to Dubai title last year in his rookie pro golf season going into this tournament, but he eventually placed 5th in the Race to Dubai with a T10 finish in the tournament. Nonetheless, the experience of playing at the same course in the 2020 DP World Tour Championship must have helped him this year.
On the grander professional golf picture, Collin Morikawa is currently ranked No.2 in the world behind only Arizona State alum John Rahm. It would not be a surprise to anyone should Morikawa also achieve “the No.1 in the World” distinction in the near future.
In the trophy presentation speech, an emotional Collin Morikawa talked about losing his grandfather earlier this year and how we should all enjoy the time we have around people that we love.
It’s some very wholesome and appropriate messages going into Thanksgiving week.
On the topic of giving thanks, it is worth repeating (in case you missed it) how both Collin Morikawa and fellow 3x PGA champ and Cal graduate Max Homa have each endowed a Cal Men’s Golf scholarship that was announced earlier this year.
Congratulations to Collin Morikawa and Go Bears!