Spotlight on: Collin Morikawa in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai

The Open champion tops the Race to Dubai standings heading into this week’s final event played on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

It's been a year to remember for Californian Collin Morikawa.

He's won the Open Championship at Royal St. George's, secured a first World Golf Championship title and now stands on the brink of becoming the first American to win the Race to Dubai.

Heading into the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai this week, Morikawa holds a 236.2-point advantage over compatriot Billy Horschel.

With third-placed Jon Rahm opting not to play, the next biggest challenger is Tyrrell Hatton but the Englishman is over 1,000 points behind the leader.

Morikawa has it in his hands and he's risen to top spot despite playing in just nine events.

Seven of those were co-sanctioned and he bagged huge points for his Open Championship (1,665pts) and WGC-Workday Championship (1,335pts) wins.

He's also added plenty for his exploits in the other three Majors thanks to T4 at the US Open (424.7pts), T8 at the PGA Championship (181.1pts) and T18 in The Masters (124pts).

So, can he finish off in style and become European No.1 this week? We look at the different ways to back him.

Morikawa's current form

Since playing in the Ryder Cup where he was the United States' joint-second highest scorer with 3.5pts from four matches, the 24-year-old has teed it up twice.

Morikawa finished like a train (65-62 on the weekend) to finish runner-up in the CJ Cup at The Summit Club, a course where he was a member.

A week later he headed to the ZOZO Championship in Japan and posted tied seventh.

In the former, he ranked 4th for Strokes Gained: Approach and, notably, given that it's often his Achilles Heel, 11th for SG: Putting.

Stats weren't recorded in Japan although the PGA Tour website tells us he was 43rd in Scrambling.

Morikawa's course form/desert form

Morikawa played in this event last year and finished a solid tied 10th after rounds of 72-70-69-70.

He also came over to the United Arab Emirates back in January but only managed T68 in the Dubai Desert Classic.

In American desert tournaments, he was T25 in his only start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open (2020).

Collin Morikawa's first win came in desert conditions.
Collin Morikawa's first win came in desert conditions.

But his first win on the PGA Tour came at Montreux Country Club in the 2019 Barracuda Championship. The course in Reno, Nevada "flows through high desert and pine forests".

Morikawa in the first round

Morikawa has held three leads on the PGA Tour and each time he was the sole leader.

They came via a 65 in the 2020 Sony Open, another 65 at the 2020 Workday Charity Open and a 66 in the 2021 Memorial Tournament.

He was ninth after 18 holes when winning this summer's Open but in regular European Tour events his R1 positions are 73-37-26. The latter was on this course last year.

In recent tournaments he's not finished the first round inside the top 10 in his last seven starts.

Morikawa in a 72-hole match

PlanetSportBet have paired Morikawa in a match with Rory McIlroy and, for backers of the American, good luck with that one!

Rory has a stupendous course record with two wins and five other top fives from 10 starts.

The missing three finishes are 9th, 11th and 20th!

McIlroy has played 32 events in the UAE and he has a top five strike-rate of 62.5% while he's made the top 10 over 78% of the time.

Conclusion

Morikawa is a warm favourite to win the Race to Dubai and the easiest way to do that is via winning this tournament.

He has some tough opposition, though, and the majority of his main rivals have far more course experience.

Rory looks a tough opponent in a 72-hole match while Morikawa isn't a great starter.

However, he's such a class act that a leaderboard challenge is expected.

With that the case, it may be best to take the slight compromise of backing him for a Top 5.

READ MORE: Punter's pointers at the DP World Tour Championship: Course and desert specialists to the fore

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