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Morikawa wins in Dubai, Ko takes LPGA Tour finale in Florida

November 21, 2021 GMT
Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, holds the Care trophy for the lowest scoring average after the final round of the LPGA Tour Championship golf tournament, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Naples, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
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Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, holds the Care trophy for the lowest scoring average after the final round of the LPGA Tour Championship golf tournament, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Naples, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
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Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, holds the Care trophy for the lowest scoring average after the final round of the LPGA Tour Championship golf tournament, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Naples, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Collin Morikawa capped off a sensational year with five birdies in his last seven holes to close with a 6-under 66 and win the DP World Tour Championship on Sunday, making him the first American to capture the Race to Dubai as the European Tour’s top player.

Winning two trophies in Dubai adds to a year in which the 24-year-old Californian won the British Open and holed the clinching putt in the Ryder Cup.

His closing stretch allowed him to overhaul a fading Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy, seeking back-to-back titles after victory at the CJ Cup on the PGA Tour last month, started the final round with a one-stroke lead — three clear of Morikawa — and his game seemingly in its best shape for some time.

He was still in the lead, despite a stunning last-day charge from defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick, when a chip onto the green at the 15th hole hit the flagstick and the ball rebounded back into a bunker. That led to the first of three bogeys in his final four holes as McIlroy closed with a 74 and in a tie for sixth place.

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Fitzpatrick (66) and Alexander Bjork (70) tied for second.

LPGA TOUR

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — Facing high stakes against her toughest opponent, Jin Young Ko delivered a performance that was close to perfect to win the richest prize in women’s golf and overtake Nelly Korda for LPGA player of the year.

Ko opened with a 25-foot birdie putt and never looked back in the CME Group Tour Championship. She shot 30 on the front nine and closed with the low round of the tournament at 9-under 63 for a one-shot victory of Nasa Hataoka of Japan.

So flawless was Ko, who has been coping with a left wrist injury since May, that she hit the final 63 greens in regulation at Tiburon Golf Club.

This victory brought big spoils, beyond the $1.5 million to the winner. The 26-year-old South Korean had to win the tournament to claim the points-based LPGA player of the year, the second time in three years Ko has won the award.

Korda’s big year of becoming a major champion and Olympic gold medalist ended with a thud. The 23-year-old American closed with a 69 and tied for fifth, six shots behind.

Ko won the season finale for the second straight year, and this took all she had. She started the final round in a four-way tie for the lead with Korda, Hataoka and Celine Boutier and quickly left everyone in her wake with four birdies on the opening six holes.

The winner finished at 23-under 265 for her 12th career victory. She won five of the last nine tournaments she played on the LPGA Tour, and became the first five-time winner on the LPGA since 2016.

PGA TOUR

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) — Talor Gooch was playing too well to get fazed by anything in the final round of the RSM Classic, and it paid off with his first PGA Tour title when he closed with a 6-under 64 for a three-shot victory at Sea Island.

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He was playing with two guys who have won before. He was pushed early by a past Sea Island champion. The buzz in the middle of the round was another player flirting with 59.

Gooch ran off three birdies in four holes to start the back nine and never let anyone get close to cap off a strong fall with the ultimate prize. The victory moved him to the top of the FedEx Cup standings, to No. 33 in the world ranking and to Augusta National in April for the Masters.

Gooch tied the tournament record of 22-under 260 set by Kevin Kisner in 2014. He became the seventh player in the 12-year history of the event to make the RSM Classic his first victory.

Mackenzie Hughes of Canada, who won the tournament in 2016, rallied from the group ahead of Gooch with four birdies among his last six holes, capped by a 20-foot putt at No. 18 for a 62 to finish second at 19-under 263.

Sebastian Munoz (65) was alone in third and Tyler McCumber (60), Cameron Smith (64), Tom Hoge (67) and Seamus Power (68) tied for fourth.

Along with the Masters, Gooch gets to start next year on Maui for the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua.

OTHER TOURS

Chan Kim birdied his last two holes for an 8-under 63 and a one-shot victory in the Dunlop Phoenix. It was the seventh career victory on the Japan Golf Tour for Kim, who grew up in Hawaii and played at Arizona State. Naoyuki Kataoka (65) and Ryosuke Kinoshita (67) finished one shot behind. ... Erika Hara closed with a 3-under 68 for a three-shot victory in the Daio Paper Elleair Ladies Open, her first victory this year on the Japan LPGA. ... Valery Plata of Colombia closed with a 1-under 71 to win the inaugural Women’s Amateur Latin America by one shot over Maria Jose Marin Negrete of Colombia. Plata earned spots in the Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship next year.