#Collin Morikawa is young, poised and in PGA Championship hunt

#Collin Morikawa is young, poised and in PGA Championship hunt

SAN FRANCISCO — For some people, life happens fast.

Collin Morikawa’s life has been happening so fast you need a police radar gun to measure its speed.

Other than Bryson DeChambeau, no one in golf has had a more eventful two months since the PGA Tour’s restart from the coronavirus pandemic pause than the 23-year-old Morikawa, who’s not much more than a year removed from carrying books to class at nearby Cal-Berkeley and carrying his own bag in college golf tournaments.

Consider Morikawa’s past two months: He lost a tournament he should have won, won a tournament he should have lost and now, entering Sunday’s PGA Championship final round at Harding Park, he’s two shots out of Dustin Johnson’s 9-under-par lead while trying to win his first major championship.

“The past two months have felt pretty fast,’’ Morikawa said Saturday after shooting 65, tying the low round of the day, to position himself beautifully for Sunday. “Over these two months, I’ve had some highs and I’ve had some lows. It’s all been a learning experience. I’ve looked back at everything and just kind of use that for [Sunday].

“Everything feels good, so why not come out [Sunday] hot out of the gates and keep that going?’’

Why not?

Collin Morikawa
Collin MorikawaUPI

Whatever happens on Sunday — whether Morikawa wins his first major just a year into his PGA Tour career or whether someone beats him — this young man is not going anywhere.

He has the game to sustain.

And, as important as that, he has the mind and the demeanor for long-term success in a game that breaks wills as often as Tiger Woods used to break par back in the day.

Morikawa, in his short time on tour, has shown himself to be pretty unflappable, owning the perspective of a 33-year-old, not a 23-year-old.

He missed a 7-foot putt on the 72nd hole that would have given him the lead — and likely the victory — at the Charles Schwab Challenge in June at Colonial and then, in a playoff several minutes later, he rimmed out a 3-foot putt to lose to Daniel Berger.

Moments like those can derail players — for weeks, months, even careers.

A month later, Morikawa overcame Justin Thomas — owner of 13 PGA Tour wins, including a major and currently the No. 1-ranked player in the world — in a playoff at the Workday Charity Open at Muirfield, keeping the playoff alive by draining a 25-foot putt after Thomas appeared to have won the tournament with a 50-foot birdie bomb seconds before.

Now he’s in position to win his first career major championship.

“He played the kind of round today that I woke up thinking I’d like to play,’’ said Adam Scott, who was Morikawa’s playing partner Saturday and who played a practice round with him earlier in the week. “It was really incredibly solid. He was in complete control, really, of all parts of his game. He never was in a lot of trouble.

“He played major championship kind of golf today. It’s easy to say he’s got all the credentials, but he’s kind of proving it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes on [Sunday] and shoots another 65.’’

Evidence of Morikawa’s uncanny poise and maturity for his age lie in this statistic: He began his career by making the cut in the first 22 tournaments in which he’s played, second only to Woods’ 25.

“I like his demeanor on the golf course a lot,’’ Scott said. “I could see it in the practice round [and he] kind of confirmed to me today. It’s Saturday of a major, and he was in that same kind of demeanor out there. Nothing was really going to faze him.

“He played a beautiful round of golf today. There was no weakness. He seems to have it under control. If he doesn’t mess around with it and he keeps everything under control, he’s going to do a lot of good in his career.’’

Morikawa put an explanation point on his round with a fiery finish Saturday.

“I feel very comfortable,’’ he said. “Finishing like that with three birdies in the last four holes shows that I’ll be ready for [Sunday] morning, and hopefully the rest of the day.’’

Can you imagine?

Morikawa, already a two-time PGA Tour winner, capturing his first major in his backyard at age 23?

“It’s crazy to think back that it was only a year ago or a year and a few months that I was out here across the bridge in college,’’ Morikawa said. “But I felt ready. I think this is where I belong. I’ve been more comfortable every single day I’m out here.’’

It shows.

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