Over his 23 years, Collin Morikawa has maybe tossed a golf club once, maybe twice. He said he couldn’t really remember the last time when asked after the second round of the Workday Charity Open. Where others may have been flustered over his 23 years, he has been focused.
Morikawa was a month ago. He brutally lipped out a 3-foot putt to continue a sudden-death playoff at the Charles Schwab Challenge, denying him a shot at his second career victory. Still focused. Morikawa was two weeks ago. He achingly missed a cut for the first time in his 23 tournaments as a professional, denying him the shot to tie the record of 25 set by, yes, Tiger Woods. Still focused. Morikawa was on Saturday. He stumbled to a pedestrian even-par 72 after finishing each of the first two days of the Workday with the lead. Still focused.
Morikawa was on Sunday. He stood on the 16th tee at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, with a three-shot deficit to the fifth-ranked player in the world, Justin Thomas. Still focused.
Morikawa overcame disappointment, the deficit and a dramatic three-hole playoff with Thomas to win the Workday, his second victory on the PGA Tour.
“This is a huge kind of steppingstone,” he said. “We got No. 1 out of the way, we got No. 2, let the gates just open and let’s just keep going because obviously it was a tough loss at Colonial a month ago, but I learned a lot. I learned a lot from last week or a week and a half ago after my missed cut. This is just more positives, more learning for me, and I’ve got to go back to, ‘OK, what did I do great, what did I do wrong this week, how can I get better, move on to next week and make a lot of birdies.'”
Here are three things you should know after the fourth round of the Workday Charity Open, the first of back-to-back events at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
What happened in the playoff?
Twice, Thomas appeared to be near victory in the playoff. Twice, Morikawa survived.
On the first playoff hole, Morikawa went right off the tee, then knocked his approach to within about 15 feet. Thomas went farther right and was farther away on the green, about 50 feet.
Thomas, improbably, made the putt.
“Come on,” he screamed, the roar doing its best to replace the fanless golf course.
Morikawa, improbably, matched.
“I mean, I figured I just had to make it,” Morikawa said. “Obviously I wanted to put in really good speed, but it didn’t really change much, other than if I missed, we’re done. It’s all over. I had my caddie come in, read the putt with me. We agreed on a line, hit it perfect exactly how we wanted, and really helped that J.T. had that putt about halfway in between during regulation. So I kind of knew what it did at the end. So as long as I got my line started on there, we had a good shot at making it.”
On the second playoff hole, also on 18, both players were in the fairway off the tee. Both were close on the approach. Both missed the birdie putts. Morikawa missed his first, the ball stopping inches from the cup. Thomas missed his next, for the win, the ball floating past the cup on the right.
On the third playoff hole, on 10, Thomas was only near a tree.
He was right off the tee, he could only punch-out and he was on the green in three shots. Morikawa was on in two. Thomas missed his 15-footer for par, Morikawa two-putted, and Morikawa won.
“Throughout the playoff, I got a lot more comfortable, especially after that playoff in Colonial,” he said. “I felt a lot more comfortable now, but I felt way more comfortable after making that birdie putt on the first playoff hole. That was huge. I had to make it after he made it.”
What happened before the playoff?
Thomas had the lead, lost the lead, regained the lead, then lost it again.
Entering Sunday with a two-shot lead, Thomas lost it after three holes. On the 2nd, he made his first bogey over 56 holes. On the 3rd, he made another, and he was tied with Viktor Hovland.
By the 6th, Thomas was three back, this time to Morikawa. By the 16th, he was three ahead.
Thomas birdied 8, 9, 10 and 11 to take back the lead. He birdied 14 and eagled 15 to build the lead. He was in control.
He finished bogey, par, bogey, his last putt just missing from 11 feet. Morikawa went par, birdie, par. They both finished at 19-under, Thomas shooting a 3-under 69, Morikawa a 6-under 66. Playoff.
“Just it’s completely unacceptable to give up a three-shot lead with three to go,” Thomas said. “I’m upset, I’m disappointed in myself, but at the end of the day, it’s over with now, and I just need to take some time this afternoon and tonight to build on it and figure out what I can do better going into next week.”
Who else contended?
Hovland also found himself with the lead for a while. Hovland also found water.
He birdied 3. He birdied 4. He birdied 5. He led by two over Morikawa and by three over Thomas. He never had the lead again after hitting into the water on 6 and bogeying. Hovland fell further after doing the same thing on 14. He shot 1-under 71 and finished third.
MJ Daffue, who entered the tournament as a Monday qualifier, then shot the third round’s low score, tied for 22nd and won $59,830, more than double the biggest paycheck of his career.