ADVERTISEMENT

Collin Morikawa moves down then up the US Open rankings

ADVERTISEMENT

BROOKLINE, Mass. — Halfway through the US Open, Collin Morikawa was atop the leaderboard looking to add a third major championship to his resume.

But on Moving Day, as Saturdays are called on the PGA Tour, Morikawa strangely backed down. After a seven-over-par 77, Morikawa found himself six shots off the pace when he teed off on Sunday. It turned out to be too great a deficit to overcome to return to contention, but he left the course at the Country Club more than satisfied, having improved his score by 11 strokes from the previous round.

“I don’t know if I found anything,” he said after his 66 took him to two under and tied for fifth. “I think it He just taught me that I have to go play golf. This year has been so focused on trying to hit that cut and trying to be so perfect, and that’s who I am. But go out and play. Things are going to be difficult. The ball is not going to go where you want. But find out.

ADVERTISEMENT

Morikawa, the defending British Open champion and winner of the 2020 PGA Championship, played nine holes without bogeys in cold and wet conditions. He got to the 18th green thinking he needed to make a birdie to stand a chance. But his putt fell short.

“He had some momentum, he kind of kept going,” said Morikawa, who shot a 3-under 32 over the back nine. “If I could have gotten to four, that would be a good number to post. It was still a few short, but it was a much-needed round.”

Morikawa shot 66 on Friday, emerging as co-leader, with Joel Dahmen, after two rounds. Then came the disaster on Saturday, when his round featured four bogeys, two double bogeys and only one birdie.

He had said before the tournament that he was struggling with his iron game. He normally plays a slice shot from left to right, but lately the ball was going from right to left, he said. But Morikawa had little trouble the first two days.

“With the way he had been playing, I didn’t see it coming,” he said.

He added, “I hope there won’t be many sevens coming in the future. But he made me refocus and get back on things. Just get it off the tee, take it to the fairway, and then worry from there.”

Morikawa called Sunday’s round “a big boost” and said he would remember the weekend more for his three sub-70 scores than Saturday’s meltdown. Before the third round, his worst US Open score had come in 2020 at Winged Foot in New York, where he opened with a 76 and missed the cut.

Last year, he finished tied for fourth at Torrey Pines near San Diego. He then went on to win his second major, beating Jordan Spieth by two strokes at Royal St. George’s.

As was the case last year, Morikawa said he planned to play the Scottish Open to prepare for this year’s British Open at St. Andrews, a course he said he had yet to play. But he said he understood this time would be very different for him for two reasons: his reigning champion status and the venue, the historic Old Course.

“I think I’m going to have to do a really good job of prioritizing each day and dividing up what I need to focus on,” he said. “Whether it’s for the golf or if I just need to enjoy being there in St. Andrews, back as the defending champion.”

He added: “There will be a couple more distractions, but that doesn’t mean I won’t focus on golf when the time comes.”

This was Morikawa’s fourteenth official tour event of the season. He tied for second at the Genesis Invitational in February and placed second at the CJ Cup at Summit in the fall. He finished fifth in the Masters Tournament, closing out in style by holeouting from the bunker on the 72nd hole.

In addition to his two majors, Morikawa has three other PGA Tour wins, all before his 25th birthday. He won twice last season; the World Golf Championship and the British Open. He also won the DP World Championship in 2021. Entering the US Open, he was ranked No. 7 in the Official World Golf Ranking and was ranked No. 20 in points on the FedEx Cup list.

In addition to the golf events Morikawa has planned, a wedding with his longtime girlfriend, Katherine Zhu, is also coming up. Unlike Brooks Koepka, who publicized his wedding in June, Morikawa would not divulge any plans for the impending nuptials.

sniloans