‘He’s seizing his chance to make history’: Lee Westwood insists Collin Morikawa has earned his shot at glory ahead of the Race to Dubai as the American bids to claim the Order of Merit on his European Tour debut
- Collin Morikawa or Patrick Reed could become first US winner of Order of Merit
- Lee Westwood said both players deserve credit and have earned their chance
- He said their presence at Race to Dubai was ‘a great advert’ for the tournament
When it comes to the Race to Dubai, Collin Morikawa never left the shores of America until pitching up at the season finale in the Middle East this week. Now, incredibly, the 23-year-old USPGA champion has the chance to mark his debut in a regular European Tour event by claiming the old Order of Merit.
How does that sit with a tour loyalist like Lee Westwood, who is in with a shout himself of winning the race for a third time? Not the way you might think.
‘I can see why people might consider it weird if he won the race but we waived the rules on the number of events you have to be play for reasons we all understand,’ said the veteran Englishman. ‘I’d rather give him the credit for coming over here and playing. He’s seizing his chance to make history owing to his major win and the pandemic.
Lee Westwood said Collin Morikawa (pictured) fully deserves his chance to win Race to Dubai
He said Morikawa had earned plaudits and his presence was a great advert for the tournament
‘It’s great that Collin and Patrick Reed are here, it’s a good advert for the tournament and shows just how much it would mean to them to be the first American to win our Order of Merit.’
How much it would mean to 47-year-old Westwood to win it again, 20 years after his first victory, is plain from the fact he is here as well, given he’s been suffering from a bad back.
‘If it hadn’t been the final event I probably would have taken this week off,’ he conceded. ‘I played too much, and driving up and down Britain to play during the summer was not a good position for my back. Age is a factor as well.
Morikawa and Patrick Reed (pic) will bid to become the first US winners of the Order of Merit
‘But I’m having treatment while I’m here and today I hit 12 drivers on the range without feeling the pain was about to set in. Who knows how I am going to play but let’s hope it proves a case of “beware the injured golfer”.’
Reed goes into the season finale starting Thursday in pole position, but Morikawa, Tommy Fleetwood and Westwood all have their fate in their own hands, knowing a victory would be sufficient to dislodge the former Masters champion.
‘You always want to have control of your own destiny,’ said Westwood. ‘Obviously, Patrick is where we all want to be, but there’s so many points on offer and so many good players up there that you’re probably going to have to win anyway to claim the overall race.’