The odds of an American golfer being crowned No.1 in Europe for the first time were already high ahead of the Race to Dubai final this week.
Jon Rahm’s withdrawal from the end-of-season DP World Tour Championship made it even more likely.
Collin Morikawa and Billy Horschel – Americans with big wins on English soil this year – arrived in Dubai as the top two players on the European Tour silver list for the 2021 season.
Rahm was their closest challenger in the Race to Dubai rankings, but the world No.1 withdrew, citing “the demands of a long season”, leaving just four other players with a chance to finish the season as as the first player on the circuit. or what was once known as the winner of the “Order of Merit”.
And Tyrrell Hatton, Min Woo Lee, Matt Fitzpatrick and Paul Casey have their work cut out for them to deny Morikawa or Horschel the Race to Dubai title, all set to win while counting no Americans near the top of the standings.
More likely is a duel between Morikawa and Horschel over what could be a historic week for the United States on the European Tour.
“I think it’s just one more step towards… at the end of the day my goal is to be a Hall of Famer, to have a hell of a career that I can be inducted into the Hall of Fame at some point. given of my career, ”Horschel mentioned.
“There’s a lot at stake this week, and we’ll see how it all plays out on Sunday.”
Neither American could be classified as a regular on the European Tour. In fact, Morikawa tops the table after playing just two tournaments – the Scottish Open and the Dubai Desert Classic – outside of the US-based golf majors and world championships.
Winning the British Open at Royal St. George’s in July essentially propelled him to first place, where he sits with 3,856.40 points. That’s 236 points more than Horschel, whose big wins this year have been at Dell Technologies Match Play and then the BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event of the European Tour based at its headquarters in Wentworth.
There are 2,000 points offered to the winner of the Earth Course this week – and Hatton is 2,472.1 points in fourth place. Hatton, for example, needs to win and needs Morikawa to finish worse than a three-way tie for third and Horschel to finish worse than a three-way tie for second.
Lee, Fitzpatrick and Casey demand that the Americans be even lower in the rankings.
Fitzpatrick is the reigning champion having won at Jumeirah Golf Estates last year for the second time, after 2016.
“I think I could probably play blindfold,” said the Englishman.