Well, that didn’t take long. One year on Tour and playing in his first PGA Championship, Collin Morikawa is a major winner.
The 23-year old prodigy from California emerged from a seven-way tie for the lead late on the back nine with a chip-in birdie on 14. Two holes later, stuck in a tie with Paul Casey at 11-under, Morikawa hit the shot of the tourney when he striped a driver on the driveable par-4 16th, rolling it onto the green and within five feet. The eagle putt went in, putting Morikawa up by two and cruising to his first major title.
Morikawa entered the day two back of Dustin Johnson and quickly shot up the leaderboard and into a tie for the lead with two birdies on the front side. What ensued was a free-for-all, with multiple players tied for the lead for much of the afternoon. At one point, Morikawa was tied for the lead with Dustin Johnson, Scottie Scheffler, Jason Day, Matthew Wolff, Paul Casey, and Tony Finau with several other players just one or two back. It wasn’t until the 14th hole when Morikawa broke out of the traffic jam.
Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka struggled mightily, bogeying three of his first seven holes and finishing with a 74. Third round leader Johnson also failed to get anything going all day and finished in a tie for second at -11, still shooting a 68. Tiger Woods played his best round of the tournament, shooting a final round 67 and finishing tied for 37th.
Morikawa becomes the third youngest PGA champion in the stroke play era, behind just Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
Final Takeaways from the PGA Championship
The New Young Face of Golf
This win is definitely not out of nowhere. Since Collin Morikawa turned pro a year ago, he was predicted to become a major champion sooner rather than later. In just his first start, he went toe-to-toe with college rival and friend Matthew Wolff only to come up just short at the 3M Open.
Morikawa won his first tournament in Reno a month later and then really made his impact in the game coming back from the coronavirus. He forced a playoff at The Colonial but lost in heartbreaking fashion to Daniel Berger when he missed a three-foot par putt on the first playoff hole. One month later at The Workday Charity Open, he played clutch golf against Justin Thomas to beat him in a playoff and earn his second win.
Morikawa was touted as one of the “Big 3” young stars but most of the attention was turned on Wolff and Victor Hovland. With a PGA Championship under his belt, the sun now shines on Morikawa.
Now That Was a Finish
Could you ask for anything better? If you are wondering why the PGA Tour is getting better ratings than the NBA, it was on full display Sunday. An incredible leaderboard mixed with young guns, superstars, and surprise stories entertained the audience with a full-blown traffic jam piling up at the top of the board. Then the young Morikawa went out and won it by making dramatic clutch shots down the stretch, emerging from the pack to win his first major at 23 years old.
The best part about it was no one lost this major. Some will say Dustin Johnson failed to get it done at another major, but he played just fine, shooting 68. He just didn’t have the magic on Sunday like Morikawa did.
A Fine Finish for Tiger
If you watched Tiger this week, the first thing you would say is he didn’t play all that bad. For the better part of the first three rounds, the putts just didn’t roll in. They did on Sunday en route to a fine 67 and a top-40 finish.
For all the negativity he took for not getting many pre-tournament reps before the Championship, Tiger didn’t show any rust at all except perhaps with the putter. It will likely be a busy upcoming stretch for Tiger now as he will likely play in two weeks when the FedEx Cup Playoffs kick off in the Northeast.
What Happened to Koepka?
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was Brooks Koepka’s 74. The round went wayward from his opening tee shot and never got better. He was constantly hitting out of the rough all day and failed to get any putts to go in the hole. By the 7th hole, Koepka was out of the hunt for his third straight PGA Championship.
Things began going south yesterday when he hit the 13th hole. Tied for the lead at 9-under par, Koepka rattled off three straight bogeys and dropped to 4th place after the round. It only tumbled more at the beginning of the fourth round. Nevertheless, Koepka is still the man to beat next month at the U.S. Open.
My Picks: The Good and Bad
Here’s a review of my rankings from last week:
The Good: In order from one to 11, my picks were Webb Simpson (T37), Brooks Koepka (T29), Justin Thomas (T37), Collin Morikawa (1st), Xander Schauffele (T10), Kevin Kisner (T19), Jon Rahm (T13), Matthew Fitzpatrick (MC), Daniel Berger (T13), Jason Day (T4), and Bryson DeChambeau (T4). I completely missed on Fitzpatrick, but was okay with the rest. Bad final rounds by Simpson and Koepka made it look worse. I also had Scottie Scheffler ranked 30th and Cameron Champ ranked 47th, two players that many did not have in their top-50s. But I did have the champion, Morikawa, in my top-4.
The Bad: I completely whiffed on Dustin Johnson, having him ranked 24th. He played as I expected him to, missing fairways and struggling some tee to green, but he putted out of his mind until Sunday, something I didn’t think was possible from Dustin Johnson. I also underestimated Tony Finau, Justin Rose, and Paul Casey who played much better than I expected.
The Next Major
Harding Park played beautifully and provided plenty of birdie opportunities mixed in with some challenging holes. I hope the players enjoyed it because next month at Winged Foot will be anything but easy. The U.S. Open will head to Mamaroneck, N.Y. and play on a layout that is one of the toughest in the country. The winning score when the U.S. Open was last played there in 2006? Five-over par.
Brooks Koepka will undoubtedly be the favorite as he goes for his third U.S. Open title in four years. Winged Foot is not a good memory for Tiger Woods. The last time he played there, he missed the cut shooting 12-over par.