He’s not far into his PGA Tour career, but Collin Morikawa already knows the feeling of a missing a costly shortie.
The first week of the Tour’s restart, Morikawa played his way into a playoff against Daniel Berger, where he faced a three-foot par putt to send the proceedings to a second hole. The putt dove towards the right half of the cup and spun out for a brutal lip-out — and ended the tournament with a bit of a thud.
A month later, Morikawa stood over an even shorter putt on Sunday afternoon looking to keep his chances at a tournament victory alive. This time the putt he faced down was a two-footer to force a playoff against Justin Thomas at the Workday Charity Open. He pulled the putt at the left side of the hole, where it hit the edge of the cup and began to horseshoe around the hole. But this time it fell in the bottom.
Morikawa put his face in his hands, shook his head and then smiled with relief. He described the feeling afterward.
“Yeah, my heartbeat must have skipped a billion times,” he said. “We talk about comfort; just a bad putt. But that’s when it really shouldn’t happen. But thankfully it caught the hole. The hole was very kind to me.”
Morikawa mentioned how when he gets good breaks, he likes to take distinct advantage.
“You know, when you get an opportunity like that, you move on, look at the next hole,” he said afterwards.
Move on is exactly what Morikawa did. On the first playoff hole, he poured in a 24-footer for birdie to match the 50-foot prayer Thomas made a moment beforehand. On the second playoff hole, he narrowly missed another birdie try. And on the third playoff hole, he found the fairway and stuffed another iron shot inside 10 feet while Thomas found tree trouble. From there, all he needed were two putts for the biggest tournament win of his young professional career.
Morikawa said he drew on the experience he’d gained during the playoff against Berger and used that to help calm his nerves — eventually.
“Colonial was huge for me. And Colonial I didn’t really feel it until the playoff. This [time] I kind of felt it on that par putt. But like I said, every experience you get, it just helps.
“You know, I still — I don’t think I was as comfortable as I wish I could have been on that first hole, but by the time we played the second hole of that playoff, I was very comfortable,” he said. “That’s the most important thing out here being on the PGA Tour, a year-and-a-half in, is being comfortable. How many times can you put yourself in a playoff spot like this?
“But I finally felt comfortable on that second playoff hole, and I knew if I just kept going at it, we’d just keep putting pressure on him.”
Morikawa had a solid week of putting, gaining 4.5 strokes cumulative on the field (24th-best). But even though he has instantly joined the Tour’s elite ballstrikers (No. 1 on Tour in strokes gained: approaching the green) his short game hasn’t quite kept pace: Morikawa is 122nd around the greens and 150th putting.
As for that one par try?
“It went in the hole,” Morikawa said by way of conclusion. “So it doesn’t matter now.”