Collin Morikawa Clinches First Major in Sensational Fashion
Collin Morikawa continued his sensational season by winning a thrilling US PGA Championship at Harding Park thanks to a brilliant eagle two at the par-four 16th hole. In an era dominated by big hitters such as Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, Matthew Wolff and Cameron Champ, Morikawa proves that there is still a place for strategy - and that you don’t have to smash it 350 yards to win golf’s biggest prizes.
The 16th measures 294 yards and on a day when nine players had led or shared the lead at the year’s first major, Morikawa decided to go for it. His ball landed perfectly and rolled up to seven feet. Morikawa buried the eagle putt and took a lead he would not relinquish. At just 23 he is now a major champion. A three-time PGA Tour winner in just 28 starts as a pro, he has more wins than missed cuts.
“Those are moments I'm always going to remember. I want to say it was 278 front, 294 hole. My ball went 291, exactly how I played it. It just had to be a normal driver for me. I didn't have to do anything special. Thankfully I don't hit it 330,” he grinned.
The only downside was that there were no spectators on hand to witness his achievement. He finished with a round of 64 and a 72-hole total of 267, 13 under par and won by two from Johnson and England’s Paul Casey. The big surprise was Brooks Koepka. Going for a third successive victory, he stumbled to a 74 and finished a distant 10 shots behind the winner.
“This is the one time I really wish there were crowds right there,” Morikawa said. “I heard some claps. Obviously not a ton. But the claps could mean I'm on the green and I've got 50 feet. Walking up I knew it was right above the tier, and you had to make it. I had to make that putt. Two strokes is a lot different than one stroke coming down 18.”
At age 23 years, 6 months, 3 days, he becomes the third-youngest PGA Championship winner since World War II, behind only Rory McIlroy and Jack Nicklaus. Woods won a PGA at 23 also.
“It's great company. It's been crazy, because this entire start of my professional career, I see all the things comparing to Tiger, but Tiger is on a completely different level,” Morikawa said. “But any time you're in the conversation of the greats, Jack, Rory, Tiger, no matter who it is, if you're in that conversation, you're doing something well.”
He is also just the third player since 1970 to win a major in two or fewer major starts after his U.S. Open appearance last year and is just the ninth player to win the PGA Championship in their tournament debut.
His weekend rounds of 65-64 for 129 sets the lowest closing 36-hole score in PGA Championship history, beating Woods 130 from 2018 and the 64 ties the PGA Championship record for lowest final-round score by a winner with Steve Elkington (1995).
The win sent Morikawa to second in the FedExCup standings and, astonishingly, he is now fifth in the world rankings.
“I've believed in myself since day one. I haven't let up from that,” he said. “When I woke up today, I was like, this is meant to be. This is where I feel very comfortable. This is where I want to be, and I'm not scared from it. I think if I was scared from it, the last few holes would have been a little different.”
And with the FedExCup Playoffs upcoming and another six majors in the next 11 months he is ready to continue his rise.
“It doesn't stop here. I've got a very good taste of what this is like, what a major championship is like,” he said. “The majors are going to be circled in, just like everyone else, but I've got to focus on every single week. I'm trying to win every single week. I'm not trying to come out and just win the majors. I'm 23. This is my first full year.
“I love golf. I love every part of it. I love being in this position and I love just being able to come out here and play with a bunch of guys that love the sport, too.”
COLLIN MORIKAWA WITB
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