Monday Finish: Morikawa finishes in style at PGA ChampionshipChip-in birdie on No. 14, eagle at No. 16 separate him from bunched leaderboard
August 10, 2020
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Collin Morikawa’s winning highlights from PGA Championship
Like Jordan Spieth in 2015, Collin Morikawa is riding too much confidence, skill and mojo to be bothered by nerves, history and learning curves. Like Justin Thomas, Morikawa has the kind of enviable swing that looks incapable of producing a bad shot. And like Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, Morikawa, 23, joins an elite club of players to capture the PGA Championship before his 24th birthday.
His final five holes won’t soon be forgotten.
Drawing upon exquisite skill and perfect timing, Morikawa chipped in for birdie on the par-4 14th hole before hitting possibly the shot of the year – a perfect, left-to-right drive that bounded to seven feet for eagle at the par-4 16th – to rise above an impossibly crowded leaderboard.
For more on Morikawa’s eagle, click here.
Now second in the FedExCup, behind Thomas, Morikawa will be a favorite in the Playoffs and beyond.
Welcome to the Monday Finish.
THREE KEYS TO SUCCESS
1. Morikawa is comfortable in California. Actually, comfortable is an understatement. While he can win anywhere – the PGA was his third PGA TOUR victory – he has really impressed others on the West Coast, as a lengthy profile on PGATOUR.COM detailed earlier this year.
“There are no holes in his game – at all,” said Maverick McNealy, a rival when he was at Stanford and now a friend with whom Morikawa plays and practices at home in Las Vegas.
In a way, Walter Chun, Morikawa’s coach at Cal, predicted this back in January.
“I think he’ll win at Torrey Pines or Riviera to start the year,” said Chun. “He’s a West Coast kid, he knows poa annua greens, and he’ll be motivated to win. When he wants to accomplish something, he tends to do it.”
Chun was not quite right with the timing, but the rest of it looks about right.
2. He has the head of a caddie. Steve Desimone, who recruited Morikawa to Cal, said he never saw Morikawa pull the wrong club. J.J. Jakovac, who worked for Ryan Moore before landing Morikawa’s bag last year, considers Morikawa so golf-smart it’s like he’s another caddie.
“It's unbelievable,” Jakovac said at TPC Harding Park. “It really is. I'm in awe still watching him play. All my caddie friends say the same thing. They're like, ‘I just cannot get over how mature your guy is.’ He's like an old soul or something. He's just plodding along and he just knows what he needs to do. The confidence is a quiet confidence but it's super confident, you know.”
Said runner-up Paul Casey of his first impressions of Morikawa last year: “Instant maturity was probably the one thing that stood out.”
3. He learned to be a player, not just a swing. Morikawa’s first lessons, when he was 5, came at a junior camp at Scholl Canyon in Glendale, California. Rick Sessinghaus, who focused on the mental game, taught the better players there. You could say it was a fruitful partnership.
Sessinghaus, who has a doctorate in sports psychology and is the mental performance coach for UCLA’s golf team, recognized Morikawa’s excellent fundamentals but didn’t stop there. Their lessons came to include copious on-course problem-solving.
What was the percentage shot? Where was the best miss? How could he play to his strengths?
“There’s a lot of great swings out there but not many golfers,” Sessinghaus told PGATOUR.com earlier this year. “He learned to play at a high level. Collin’s been wired that way; I’ve tried to cultivate it, raise his golf I.Q. by putting him in different situations.
“He’s going to look at a golf course and create a strategy based on his capabilities. He’s not going to overpower it but can plot his way around based on his strengths.”
Casey, Koepka pull reversal
The cameras were on Brooks Koepka, not Paul Casey.
Just a few shots back as he eyed a potential third straight PGA title, Koepka came in with ample swagger. Alas, Casey (66) thumped Koepka (74) by eight shots, and by the end of their rounds the cameras were on the Englishman, a flip of the script that was more than a little surprising.
“Today was just sort of cruise around the golf course and have a great time,” Casey said. “I've not played great golf so far this season, so anything was going to be a bonus on where I was a week ago or two weeks ago. So I was just out there kind of having a good time.
“But I do think I'm in a sweet spot,” he added. “It's taken me 43 years to get there, but yeah, pretty chilled out, know what I'm capable of, and enjoying my golf.”
As for Koepka, he shrugged and smiled and said he was just there to cheer Casey on.
“You know, hey, wasn't meant to be,” said Koepka, who finished T29 at 3 under par. “Three in a row, you're not really supposed to do two in a row looking at history, but that's all right.”
DeChambeau, Finau put on show
They hit epic tee shots, but they didn’t win. No matter. Bryson DeChambeau was unphased. For one thing, he shot a final-round 66, and for another, his T4 was his best finish in a major.
“It's super validating,” he said. “I don't know how else to put it. Very excited for the future for me. Look, my driving I think is only going to get stronger and farther, golf-course-dependent, obviously. But I hope in due time there's going to be an advantage that's out there that, you know, hopefully – I don't know how else to put it in a nicer way, but gives me a really distinct advantage that helps me win a lot out here. I feel like my putting is good enough.
“I just have to improve the irons and wedges a little bit,” he added.
Finau, meanwhile, shot 67 to also finish T4 – another close call for the one-time TOUR winner.
“I had so many, so many great looks that I thought I made, and just slid by,” he said. “… I felt like just try and get to double digits as fast as you can, and hopefully from there you have some holes left to make some more birdies. I did that. I got to 10-under, I think after 14, and had four holes in front of me that I felt like if I got a couple, I would have a great chance, and gave myself some looks.”
“I didn’t realize how much I actually missed this area.” – Southern Cal product Morikawa, who graduated from Cal-Berkeley, just across the bay from TPC Harding Park
“There’s nothing I would change. I’m very, very happy with how I played.” – Paul Casey (66, 11 under, T2) after thumping final-round playing partner Brooks Koepka
“You know, I was just there to cheer Paul on.” – Brooks Koepka, who was in contention for a third straight PGA Championship win but shot a final-round 74 (T29)
The Wyndham Rewards Top 10 is a season-long competition that offers a $10 million bonus for the 10 golfers who end the regular season at the Wyndham Championship inside the top 10 in FedExCup points. The player atop the standings will earn $2 million, with varying payoffs for the others through $500,000 for the 10th place finisher.
Justin Thomas remains at No. 1 with a 556-point lead over new No. 2 Collin Morikawa. With 500 points available to the winner of this week’s Wyndham Championship, that means Thomas has clinched the victory in the Wyndham Rewards Top 10, while the remaining nine places remain up for grabs. This is the last week before the start of the FedExCup Playoffs.
Here’s how the standings look heading into this week’s Wyndham Championship:
THIS WEEK LAST WEEK PLAYER 1. 1.
Justin Thomas 2. 6.
6. 7. Patrick Reed
9. 9. Brendon Todd 10.
COLLIN— Cal Athletics (@CalAthletics) August 10, 2020
THAT’S THE TWEET!!
Congrats to fellow @excelsm player @collin_morikawa on winning in just his 2nd Major..Unreal! Side note! I had my 100th top 10 on tour this week.— Justin ROSE (@JustinRose99) August 10, 2020
It was a bunched leaderboard and I was close to glory.... first 3 days were a little dicey but played in round 4. #Team🌹 pic.twitter.com/TeWK7gip0h