AP photo by Ashley Landis / Collin Morikawa celebrates while competing for the United States in the Ryder Cup singles matches on Sept. 26 in Sheboygan, Wis. On Sunday, Morikawa won the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai to became the first American to finish a year with the points lead on the European Tour.

British Open champion, Ryder Cup winner and now the first American to finish a season as the European Tour's No. 1 player. It's been quite the golf year for Collin Morikawa.

The 24-year-old Californian demonstrated patience after a slow start Sunday, then showed world-class iron play down the stretch while making five birdies in his last seven holes to overhaul a fading Rory McIlroy and win the DP World Tour Championship.

Morikawa closed with a 6-under-par 66 to finish at 17-under 271 on the Earth Course in Dubai and win the tournament by three shots over England's Matt Fitzpatrick (66) and Sweden's Alexander Bjork (70). Morikawa's win also sealed the Race to Dubai title as the leading points scorer on the European Tour in the 2021 season.

"It's an honor to be the first American to do that, to put my name against many, many greats and Hall of Famers," Morikawa said.

McIlroy, who was seeking back-to-back titles after his 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 reigning tournament Fitzpatrick, when a chip onto the green at the 15th hole hit the flagstick and the ball rebounded into a bunker. That led to the first of three bogeys in his final four holes as McIlroy closed with a 74 and tied for sixth place at 12 under with South Africa's Dean Burmester (69) and England's Ian Poulter (67).

Denmark's Nicolai Hojgaard (67) and Scotland's Robert Macintyre (71) shared fourth at 13 under.

McIlroy's round was the opposite to that of Morikawa, who parred his first six holes to fall further back from the leader. At the same time, Fitzpatrick — one of five players who started the week with a chance to overhaul Morikawa in the season points standings — birdied six of his first 10 holes to power up the leaderboard.

Fitzpatrick even took the lead briefly after No. 15 with his seventh birdie of the day. His hopes disappeared on the very next hole when he drove into a fairway bunker and hit out right, straight into the water. The first of two straight bogeys slowed his charge.

"I would be lying to you if I said I wasn't watching what Matt Fitzpatrick was doing. Boy, did he put on a run," Morikawa said. "But it's 18 holes. All I needed to do was catch a spark. The putts weren't dropping, and I just told myself when I looked at the leaderboard after nine that I was still in there."

By winning two of his first eight majors, Morikawa is golf's new big thing. He also won his first World Golf Championships event at the Workday Championship in February, and that — along with lifting the claret jug at Royal St. George's to win the British Open in July — put him atop the Race to Dubai standings despite playing only two regular events on the European Tour in 2021.

At the Ryder Cup, he earned 3 1/2 points of a possible four as the United States beat Europe by a record margin.

For Morikawa, 2021 could hardly have gone better on the course.

"Pretty good," he said with a smile. "Look, the way my head is wired, I'm always looking for what's next, but I'm going to try to enjoy this one. This one is special."

some text
AP photo by Stephen B. Morton / Talor Gooch holds his championship trophy after winning the PGA Tour's RSM Classic on Sunday in St. Simons Island, Ga.

PGA Tour: Breakthrough winner unstoppable

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — 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 victory when he closed with a 6-under-par 64 for a three-shot win at Sea Island Golf Club.

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

Gooch ran off three birdies in four holes to start the back nine on the Seaside course and never let anyone get close to cap off a strong fall with the ultimate prize. The victory moved the 30-year-old from Oklahoma to the top of the 2021-22 season's FedEx Cup standings, to No. 33 in the Official World Golf Ranking and to Augusta National in April for the Masters.

"To finish the fall season off like I just did, it's a dream come true," Gooch said.

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

Canada's Mackenzie Hughes, 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.

Colombia's Sebastian Muñoz (65) was third at 18 under, Tyler McCumber (60), Australia's Cameron Smith (64), Tom Hoge (67) and Ireland's Seamus Power (68) were another stroke back, and Taylor Moore (66) and Webb Simpson (66) shared eighth at 14 under.

Luke List (68) tied for 10th at 11 under, while fellow Baylor School graduate Keith Mitchell (65) was one stroke back to share 12th.

Gooch began the day with a three-shot lead over playing partners Munoz and Power and delivered a sound message when he drilled two iron shots to set up birdie putts of 5 and 9 feet at Nos. 2 and 4. He missed only two fairways and two greens, and after McCumber's 59 flirtation left him three back, Gooch's response was to floor it.

He birdied four of his first six holes on the back nine and led Hughes and Munoz by as many as five shots. Gooch said he stayed abreast of what was going on around the course on a sunny, calmer day than the previous two rounds.

"I keep an eye on things," he said. "But it doesn't change what you're doing."

Along with the Masters, Gooch gets to start next year in Hawaii at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

"This gets me into some tournaments I wasn't into," he said. "But I want to get to the Tour Championship, and this puts me a little bit ahead of the ballgame for that journey. The goal is to win the Tour Championship."

some text
AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell / Jin Young Ko follows through and tracks her shot on the 17th tee at Tiburon Golf Club during the final round of the LPGA's CME Group Tour Championship on Sunday in Naples, Fla.

LPGA: Victory seals season honor

NAPLES, Fla. — The stakes were high and the odds would have seemed long to anyone but Jin Young Ko.

Her only chance at LPGA player of the year was to repeat as the winner of the CME Group Tour Championship. In her way was Nelly Korda, No. 1 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings. If that wasn't enough, Ko's left wrist was ailing to the point that the 26-year-old South Korean only took full swings with a gap wedge on the practice range.

And then she delivered a performance that was close to perfect.

Ko putted for birdie on every hole — she went the final 63 holes at Tiburon Golf Club without missing a green in regulation — shot a 30 on the front nine Sunday to seize control and closed with a 9-under-par 63 for the low round of the tournament and a one-shot victory at 23-under 265.

For the victor, these were some serious spoils. Ko won the richest prize in women's golf at $1.5 million and overtook Korda to claim the LPGA's biggest award as player of the year.

Ko opened her round with a 25-foot birdie putt that looked as easy as a tap-in, and she was on her way to the 12th LPGA Tour win of her career. Her 7-iron shot set up an eight-foot birdie putt on No. 3, and she took the lead for good with a wedge shot for a 10-footer on the next hole.

Ko didn't come close to a bogey as she wound up winning by a stroke over Japan's Nasa Hataoka, who never got closer than two shots on the back nine until a birdie on the final hole for a 64. The champion couldn't stop smiling on the 18th green when she collected the crystal trophy for winning the tournament and a silver trophy as player of the year.

"So proud of myself," Ko said. "Player of the year, it's cool. I would say player of the year is best. It's really tough get to player of the year, especially this year with Nelly."

Korda's big year of becoming a major champion, an Olympic gold medalist and reaching No. 1 in the world ended with a thud. The 23-year-old American couldn't keep pace at the start and was never a serious factor when Ko pulled away on the back nine.

"It was the Jin Young Ko show today, and honestly, it was cool to see," Korda said. "I just sat back and watched all day."

Korda, whose four wins this year included the Women's PGA Championship, closed with a 69 and tied for fifth, six shots behind.

Ko complimented Korda's success this year and said: "I feel a little sad for Nelly, but I was a little luckier than her."

A little determination helped, too, after she started the final round in a four-way tie for the lead with Korda, Hataoka and France's Celine Boutier but quickly left everyone in her wake with four birdies in the first six holes.

Boutier (68) shared third with Mina Harigae (67) at 18 under. Korda was matched at 17 under by Megan Khang (66) and Australia's Minjee Lee (66).