Do Race to Dubai Winners Support The Tour?
Addressing Collin Morikawa's Race to Dubai triumph, Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook analyses the American's success and explains how the number of events the Open Champion played isn't too much of an anomaly when compared to other winners from the past decade.
As you would have seen over the weekend, Collin Morikawa produced a superb final round of 66 to win the DP World Tour Championship and take the Race to Dubai crown along with it.
Once again this raise questions of the Race to Dubai format, especially given that Collin Morikawa had ‘only’ played in 10 events offering points towards the season long prize.
I wanted to take a bit more of a dive into this claim. We’ve all seen people online suggesting it’s not fair on those guys playing week in week out on the European Tour.
At this moment it’s also worth pointing out that this is not a Collin Morikawa witch-hunt either, as you’ll soon see.
So yes, it’s true Morikawa has only played in 10 events this year that count towards the R2D. In fact, when you break this down, its stakes even more of a claim that it’s so heavily weighted to a select few.
Of Morikawa’s 10 events this year, four of those were majors. When you take away the three co-sanctioned WGC events he has played in, that leaves just three events - with one of those being the DP World Tour Championship. In fact, the only ‘standalone’ European Tour events he played this year were the Scottish Open - a Rolex Series event with a large purse - and the Dubai Desert Classic.
Personally, this doesn’t sit quite right with me - and no blame is being laid at the door of Mr Morikawa. Let's face it, he won the Tour Championship, The Open and a WGC this year, so deserves everything he gets. But it led me to ask: Isn’t it like this every year?
(Francesco Molinari - 2018 Race to Dubai Winner)
Maybe last year, Lee Westwood was an exception to the rule. Yes, due to the pandemic, things were slightly different. Lee only played in two majors in 2020 and one WGC. But after you take away the lucrative Rolex events, he still played nine regular events, that total only being beaten by Tommy Fleetwood’s triumph in 2017 (10).
Rory McIlroy has won the R2D three times. In those three seasons he has raked up nine wins combined - with three of those being majors.
Other than Tommy Fleetwood (24 in 2017), Henrik Stenson had the most qualifying events (17) of any winner in 2013, and whilst he didn’t win a major that year, his second place finish at The Open clearly helped towards his total.
Another fact is that Lee Westwood aside in 2020, Jon Rahm had the lowest highest major finish of any R2D champ - a T9th - BUT he backed that up with three wins in 2019 and one of those was the Tour Championship and another was a Rolex event.
The majors naturally play a big role in this, I looked back over the last 10 years and five times the eventual R2D winner has won a major - with three other winners having a high finish of fourth or better. Also winning is key - but winning the right events is more vital it would seem.
In the last 10 years, the R2D winner has played in an average of eight events (7.9 to be precise) that don’t fall into the majors or WGC/Rolex category (Rolex Series events weren’t introduced until 2017 so this number would be lower) and have won on average 2.3 times per season.
So, what am I trying to say?
Yes, I think the system is flawed somewhere. BUT every golfer has equal chances in theory to play well and qualify for the bigger events to earn more money/points. It is a talking point that comes up every year - maybe more so this time because Morikawa is the first American to win the season long prize on the European Tour. But don’t forget that Francesco Molinari won in 2018 having played in only one more ‘regular ‘event than Morikawa has this year.
I’ll say it again, do I think the system may need a slight tweak? Yes, I do feel that there could be some way to support those guys that aren’t qualifying for the bigger and better events. But the harsh reality is they need to be better.
I also don’t have the answer as to how that might be. But when you look back at the last 10 years I think it’s also the fairest way and the best golfer always comes out on top - and isn’t that kind of the point?
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