Morikawa makes history as title secures Race to Dubai triumph

By Sports Desk November 21, 2021

Collin Morikawa became the first American to win the Race to Dubai after clinching the DP World Tour Championship title on Sunday.

The 24-year-old entered this week's season finale knowing there were five challengers who could pip him to the European number one crown, although he teed off on Sunday with a three-shot advantage over his nearest rivals.

Morikawa showed few nerves as he produced his best round of the tournament, carding a 66 to finish three strokes ahead of Alexander Bjork and Matt Fitzpatrick at 17 under par.

It capped a memorable 2021 for Morikawa, who has won three titles this year, including the Open Championship in July, having only made his professional debut in August 2019.

"It's special, 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, it's special," he said.

"Two years ago, it wasn't in my thoughts. 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 – what a great way to finish.

"To close out the season-long race, the Race to Dubai, it means everything. Obviously, I won some big events and that obviously helped catapult me up to the top."

Rory McIlroy, who led after the first day at Jumeirah Golf Estates, finished in a tie for sixth with Dean Burmester and Ian Poulter after a final round of 74 left him at 12 under.

The best performance of the day belonged to Bernd Wiesberger, who carded a brilliant 63 to finish on two over after only managing 76, 76 and 75 in the first three rounds.

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    Golf's world number two, Jon Rahm, believes teenage compatriot Carlos Alcaraz can benefit from having Rafael Nadal around as his burgeoning tennis career progresses.

    Nineteen-year-old Spaniard Alcaraz became the first tennis player to beat both Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same tournament on clay, on his way to becoming the youngest ever winner at the Madrid Open earlier in May.

    Alcaraz has won three of the past four tournaments he has entered, including the Miami Open, moving to number six in the ATP world rankings and emerging as a serious challenger for the French Open, which starts on Sunday.

    When asked about Alcaraz's rapid ascent, Rahm said Alcaraz can still learn a lot from 21-time grand slam winner Nadal.

    "I thought you were talking about a golfer. I was just confused," Rahm joked, speaking ahead of this week's US PGA Championship. "I've heard about what he's done, and I've seen the results. Pretty impressive, especially in the world of tennis.

    "He's got some big shoes to fill, because historically Spain has had great tennis players, and obviously with Rafa out there it can be probably daunting yet really exciting too for somebody like him.

    "You have a great reference who's done it right in front of you, so I'm sure he can pick his brain and learn. He's got a great start. Hopefully he can keep it going and be a great champion like many others have been."

    Following a tie for 27th at the Masters, Rahm returned to action earlier in May, winning the Mexico Open.

    The lingering dynamic this weekend at Southern Hills will be the fact Phil Mickelson will not be there to defend his title, following his controversial remarks about the Saudi-backed breakaway golf tour.

    Rahm and Mickelson share the same alma mater and agency, and the former continued to defend the six-time major winner.

    "Phil has got to do what Phil has got to do," Rahm said. "He's a good friend of mine. I can't remember the last time a major champion didn't defend a title.

    "But he's got to do what's best for him. That's all I can say. I can't say it makes me unhappy. As long as he's doing what is best for him, I can't truly say I'm unhappy.

    "I would have liked to see him defend. I know he's played good here in the past. But again, he's got to do what he's got to do."

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