Collin Morikawa misses rare cut, and there’s concern over a reason why

Collin Morikawa

Collin Morikawa hits a shot on Friday on the 17th hole at Liberty National.

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Collin Morikawa, after Friday’s second round at the Northern Trust, took his hat off, shut his eyes and ran his fingers through his hair a few times. On Thursday at Liberty National, he shot a 74, his third-highest score of the year. A day later, while four shots better, he’d miss just his second cut of 2021.

“Yeah, it’s hard to play the Tour against these guys as good as they are when you’re hurting a little bit,” analyst Arron Oberholser said during Golf Channel’s broadcast. “It’s hard enough when you’re healthy.”

And Morikawa was, indeed, hurting. Golf Channel analyst Dottie Pepper first reported that this year’s Open Championship winner and the No. 3 player in the world hurt his back on the final day of the Olympics a few weeks ago and that he “made some mechanical changes to try to get through that stretch, get through last week in Memphis and went home for a week.” After his round, Morikawa would tell Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard that the Olympic back injury was gone, but he was then hitting “these slap-cuts” last week and pinched a nerve in his back. 

Pepper said that Morikawa’s caddie, J.J. Jakovac, said “he’s never seen him like this.” 

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“Pretty disturbing,” analyst Frank Nobilo said on the broadcast. “He’s not a power player, too, for him to have a back issue.”

One of the premier iron players on Tour, Morikawa hit just half of his greens in regulation on Thursday and ranked 86th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach. On Friday, he was slightly better, hitting 11 of 18 greens and ranking 53rd in SG: Approach. The missed cut would end up being his first since April’s Zurich Classic, a team event, and his first in a non-team event since last year’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. 

Pepper reported that Morikawa’s coach, Rick Sessinghaus, will join up with his pupil at next week’s BMW Championship, the second leg of the PGA Tour’s three-week playoff system, “to try to patch things up.” Morikawa told Hoggard that “the timing is all off; the body is all off.”

“I’m seeing a guy who’s just trying to stay away from pain,” Oberholser said. “And whenever I can speak from very personal experience, whenever you try to fight away from pain, you end up changing things in your golf swing that sometimes you end up going down a rabbit hole and so I’m hoping that doesn’t happen to Collin. It’s only been a couple of weeks. 

“But it’s interesting when I talk to my colleague David Duval, who suffered from the same problems and started making changes because of not wanting to swing with pain. And subliminally it happens and you don’t know it’s happening at times. So hopefully he can get healthy in the next week and Rick can get out here — Sessinghaus, his coach — and potentially tweak to get back to where he needs to be because that can be a long, hard road to come back from if you get too many changes in your golf swing because you’re trying to swing away from pain.”

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