Collin Morikawa this week will have a third chance to become the top-ranked player in the world.
The first opportunity came in December at the Hero World Challenge, where he failed to convert a five-shot lead heading into the final round. He closed with 76, his worst score since March.
“I was frustrated for a couple days, and then you get over it and then I’m motivated,” Morikawa told reporters Tuesday ahead of his appearance at the DP World Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, where he’ll tee off as the reigning Race to Dubai champion.
“So now it’s more motivation. But what you learn from a round like that is a lot. ... It was a weird Sunday because I felt great going into it. Game felt good. Warmup felt great. First couple holes felt good. It was just something I couldn’t get out of, and I went from trying to win the tournament to just trying to hit a decent putt. Just trying to start the ball on-line, and that’s the worst thing when you’re trying to win a tournament is when you’re thinking about things.”
After a few weeks off, Morikawa returned to kick off the new year at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he once again could have overtaken Rahm with a victory and some help. Instead, Rahm played even better, chasing Cameron Smith during a historic shootout and ultimately finished second. Morikawa had a strong weekend and tied for fifth, but the gap at the top widened, if only slightly.
Here, then, is his latest chance: Morikawa could become No. 1 if he wins in Abu Dhabi and Rahm, playing at the PGA Tour’s American Express in California, finishes worse than a two-way tie for seventh.
As his Hero collapse showed, it won’t be the last time Morikawa is in a position to accomplish a career first. Both Morikawa (Dubai) and Rahm (Farmers) are competing next week, as well.
“I get over things pretty easily, and I think for me it’s motivation: How do I learn off these bad events and how do I, if I miss a cut or whatever it may be, not have that happen again?” he said. “It’s learning about those things and making sure I never have those happen again. Sometimes you have to write them down. Sometimes you have to talk about it with your coach or your caddie. But looking at it as a low is probably not how I put it as.”