Collin Morikawa holds the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the PGA Championship golf tournament at TPC Harding Park Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
By Jeremy Harness
Collin Morikawa is a rookie on the PGA Tour. But the only rookie move he pulled this week came when he nearly dropped the championship trophy after his triumph at TPC Harding Park.
The 23-year-old from the University of California started Sunday’s final round two shots behind leader Dustin Johnson but came up with the shots and the putts when he needed them, as he fired a bogey-free, six-under round of 64 to claim the PGA Championship crown in only his second-career major start.
“It’s amazing,” Morikawa said. “It’s been a life goal, obviously as a little kid, kind of watching everyone grow up, all these professionals, and this is always what I’ve wanted to do. I felt very comfortable from the start. As an amateur, junior golfer, turning professional last year, but to finally close it off and come out here in San Francisco, pretty much my second home where I spent the last four years, is pretty special.”
On the back nine, he had a chip-in for birdie at the par-4 14th, and two holes later, he drove the green at the driveable par-4 16th and then sank the ensuing six-footer for eagle, and that proved to be the difference.
“It just fit my eye,” Morikawa said. “We were just hoping for a really good bounce, and we got it, hit a really good putt, and now we’re here.”
Johnson, who held the 54-hole lead, got off to a nice start by birdieing the first hole on Sunday, but he traded a birdie for a bogey at the third and fourth holes and could not get any real momentum going.
He suffered a damaging bogey at the par-4 14th but he got some rhythm back with a birdie at the 16th and another at the 18th, but by then, it was too late.
Paul Casey made a bit of a charge, but like Johnson, came up a little short and finished tied for second, two shots behind Morikawa.
He birdied both the fourth and fifth holes, and then ran off three more birdies on the back nine. His only blemish is a bogey at the par-4 13th, where he failed to get it up and down.
“I played phenomenal golf and there’s nothing I would change,” Casey said. “I’m very, very happy with how I played. Great attitude. Stayed very calm and stayed in the present. Wasn’t enough. The glorious shots Collin hit like on 16 to make eagle, you have to tip your cap. When he popped up on Tour not that long ago, those guys who were paying attention like myself knew that this was something special, and he’s proved it today.
“He’s already sort of proved it but he’s really stamped his authority of how good he is today.”