Morikawa and Horschel eyeing history as Race to Dubai reaches finale

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Collin Morikawa (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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Collin Morikawa is targeting another place in the record books as he aims to follow his debut Open Championship win earlier this year by becoming the first American to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Morikawa will tee it off in the season-ending Rolex Series event, the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, with a 236 point advantage over compatriot Billy Horschel, his playing partner for Thursday’s first round.

“I was here last year, and had a shot at trying to win the Race to Dubai,” said Morikawa. “I didn’t come through, but it’s comforting to come back to a course I’ve played at before. Nothing has really changed. My game feels really good right now, the past month and a half since the Ryder Cup has progressed.

“It’s exciting. When your game feels good, when you head into a week like this, even with a lot of travel, you do as much prep as you can by Thursday, and you just get ready to play some great golf.

I’m not taking this week lightly. I’ve put a lot of work in the last week, the past couple days to be ready and to come out here and play as best as I can.”

Horschel, along with Tyrrell Hatton, Min Woo Lee, Matt Fitzpatrick and Paul Casey, could potentially dislodge Morikawa from the top spot, but of that quintet, all but BMW PGA Championship winner Horschel require victory in the US$9million event to stand any chance of finishing the year as the European Tour’s Number One.

Last year, another American, Patrick Reed, was the front runner in the Race to Dubai heading into the final round of the 2020 season, but was ultimately edged into third place in the final rankings by Englishman Lee Westwood, with tournament winner Fitzpatrick finishing runner up.

“It’s my first time to Dubai. It’s a cool place,” said Horschel. “Obviously I’ve watched this event and Dubai Desert Classic and a few other events over here and seen on TV. But to be here and experience this amazing place is pretty cool.

“And to be here at this event, the last one on the European Tour calendar, to have a chance to win the DP World Tour Championship is something as a kid I didn’t dream about or even imagine, but over the last year it changed with playing well in the WGCs and everything, and it’s great to be here.

Like Horschel, Hatton and Lee are already Rolex Series winners this season, Englishman Hatton having won the first event of the year, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January, while Lee claimed the abrdn Scottish Open in July.

With a first prize of US$3million on offer at Jumeirah Golf Estates, the stage is set for another fascinating finale to the European Tour’s season, ahead of it celebrating its 50th anniversary and becoming the DP World Tour in 2022.

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