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13D AGO

Collin Morikawa does everything but beat Scottie Scheffler at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday

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Horse for course, who won 2020 Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village, earns second runner-up at the Memorial



    Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin

    Collin Morikawa finished three strokes clear of anyone not named Scottie Scheffler at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, an event he has done everything but win.

    Yet for Morikawa, the game’s hottest player clipped him by a stroke in a spirited Sunday duel at one of the season’s toughest tests in central Ohio.

    It wasn’t for lack of effort, as Morikawa closed with a 1-under 71 at Muirfield Village for a solo second finish at 7-under, as the venue provided one of the season’s toughest tests on a firm, fast Sunday at the 49th edition of the Signature Event hosted by Jack Nicklaus. (Just six players broke par on Sunday, none better than 3-under.)

    Morikawa trailed Scheffler by four strokes into the final round but refused to fold, as epitomized by a 32-foot birdie at the par-3 12th to pull within a stroke as his playing partner Scheffler missed from 9 feet. Morikawa couldn’t pull closer, though, falling two behind with a bogey at No. 16; the Californian drew within one as Scheffler made bogey on No. 17, but the world No. 1 got up-and-down for par at the 72nd hole with a 5-footer to seal the victory.

    Nonetheless, there are plenty of silver linings for Morikawa, who moves from sixth to fourth on the FedExCup standings, further solidifying his ascent to form in recent months – which has correlated with a return to longtime swing coach Rick Sessinghaus (after a stint with Mark Blackburn). Morikawa, 27, has credited an uncluttered mind for his success of late; he finished third at the Masters and fourth at the PGA Championship, and he added a fourth-place showing at the Charles Schwab Challenge between the PGA and the Memorial.


    Collin Morikawa on recent success with short game


    “I would love to be on the opposite end of this,” said Morikawa, who has yet to win this season. “I've done it before, so it's not like I'm trying to learn how to close out a Sunday round … It's a lot of fun, obviously, being in these final rounds and being in these final groupings. I haven't seen it for quite some time and to kind of have this two-month stretch so far, it's been a lot of fun.”

    Not only has Morikawa now finished runner-up twice at the Memorial (also in 2021, falling to Patrick Cantlay in a playoff), but he’s also a winner at Muirfield Village, having defeated Justin Thomas in a playoff at the 2020 Workday Charity Open, which was played a week prior to the Memorial as a fill-in event shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hiatus. All he’s missing is the winner’s handshake with tournament host Jack Nicklaus that commemorates the Memorial’s champion.


    Players react to JT and Morikawa's incredible playoff putts at Muirfield


    Morikawa clearly has the game to compete around here; the six-time TOUR winner (including two majors) is long regarded as an elite ball-striker, as evidenced by his well-rounded tee-to-green numbers this week (fourth in both Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Strokes Gained: Approach the Green). As several contenders faded with scores in the mid-to-high 70s on Sunday (the field averaged 74.943 on the par-72 layout), Morikawa steadily pulled away from everyone aside from Scheffler, who has now won five times in his last eight starts, becoming the first player since Tom Watson in 1980 to win earn five TOUR titles before the U.S. Open.

    “It’s just tough golf,” Morikawa said of Muirfield Village. “You just have to hit good shots and that's what a great golf course is and that's why I've loved this golf course since I've set foot here.”

    Morikawa embraced that tough golf, which points to him as an expected contender at next week’s U.S. Open. Precision is sure to be paramount at Pinehurst, and an in-form Morikawa can execute at the highest level. He just might need a down week from Scheffler – which is likely the case for anyone else in the world, as well.

    Kevin Prise is an associate editor for the PGA TOUR. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.

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