How did Collin Morikawa meltdown at the TOC? It came on these 3 holes

Collin Morikawa of the United States reacts to his shot from a bunker on the 14th hole during the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club on January 08, 2023 in Lahaina, Hawaii.

Collin Morikawa's collapse Sunday started with a bladed bunker shot on 14.

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There are numerous ways to demonstrate how improbable Collin Morikawa’s collapse and Jon Rahm’s subsequent rally were Sunday, but this one might be the best.

According to Golfbet, Collin Morikawa was a -20000 favorite to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the turn of the final round. That’s 1-to-200 odds, meaning a bettor would have to wager $200 just to win one dollar on him to win the tournament at that point. Jon Rahm, at that time six behind, was +4100, meaning if you were lucky enough to bet on him then, a $5 bet would have netted $205.

That’s basically golf’s equivalent of ESPN’s win probability graph being at, like, 99 percent for Morikawa.

So what went wrong?

Collin Morikawa, JJ Jakovac
‘Sadness. I don’t know. It sucks’: Collin Morikawa digests Sunday swoon
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For 67 holes Morikawa was the only player not to make a bogey on the Plantation Course at Kapalua. Then he made three in a row at 14, 15 and 16.

Of course, Morikawa’s much-improved putting, which through 54 holes had been the best in the field by Strokes Gained: Putting, finally betrayed him earlier in the round.

He three-putted the par-5 5th, missing a 5-footer for birdie. That was the first sign of trouble, despite rebounding on 6 with his third birdie of the day.

On 9, Morikawa missed a 7-foot birdie putt and settled again for par on one of Kapalua’s gettable par-5s. Then he missed 11-footers at 11 and 13.

But the true damage was done on holes 14 through 16. Here’s how it happened:

No. 14, Par-4, 284 yards (5th easiest hole of the week)

Morikawa birdied this uphill driveable par-4 each of the first three rounds and came to the tee still holding a three-shot lead after Rahm made three birdies in a row. His tee shot found the same bunker he got up and down out of Friday for birdie.

On Sunday, instead of blasting out to within 10 feet, he bladed his second shot over the green, leaving a difficult downhill pitch.

“The drive off 14 wasn’t that bad,” Morikawa said after the round. “I’ve been in that bunker, it’s not like it’s an impossible bunker shot. Normally 10 out of 10 times you’re putting that to within 15 feet at worst. I caught it thin.”

His pitch came up about 10 feet short and he missed the par effort for his first bogey all week. Rahm buried a short eagle try a hole ahead on 15 and Morikawa’s six-shot lead to begin the back nine had completely evaporated.

No. 15, Par-5, 530 yards (3rd easiest)

Morikawa said he didn’t feel like he had lost control of the tournament after the miscue on 14. He knew he still had the reachable par-5th 15th next and par-5 18th to play.

He’d also birdied 15 the first three days, and on Sunday, he put his tee shot in just about the same spot as the last two rounds, about 250 yards out.

Jon Rahm of Spain celebrates after making his putt for birdie on the 18th green during the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club on January 08, 2023 in Lahaina, Hawaii.
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By: Jack Hirsh

But as soon as he hit his 5-wood approach to the uphill green, he know it wasn’t good.

“No!” he shouted in disgust.

His ball landed on the front right edge of the green but quickly kicked off and rolled back about 30 yards down the slope, leaving one of the most difficult pitch shots on the course.

“[I] just pushed the 5-wood just enough and knew it was going to roll down,” Morikawa said. “Practiced that chip a bunch too and obviously not enough.”

His first attempt was a straight-up chunk that carried maybe halfway up the slope before coming right almost right back to his feet.

He did well to hit the next pitch 8 feet past the flag for his par try. It was then he got a sense of the situation with Rahm ahead.

“I got on the green and you realize I’m putting for par to stay tied for the lead,” Morikawa said. “At that point, it’s a little different feeling than what you had early on.”

He missed the par effort. For the first time since Thursday, he was trailing.

No. 16, Par-4, 360 yards (6th easiest)

The 16th was just salt in the wound. Morikawa’s drive found the fairway, right of a line of bunkers down the middle of the short par-4, and just in front of another one.

From just 77 yards, however, his approach spun off the false front of the green and again rolled back down a slope, 20-plus yards from the hole.

He played another solid pitch to seven feet, but his putt carried just a little too much speed and went by on the high side.

In just three holes, Morikawa had gone from leading by three to trailing Rahm by two.

Rahm still did well to come from behind, shooting 10 under Sunday. Morikawa’s one under round was more than three strokes above the course scoring average for the round and he was asked if Rahm won the tournament, or if he lost it.

“A little bit of both. I mean one under on this course is not a good score. It really isn’t,” he said. “I was three under through whatever, six holes. three-putted 5 as well.

“He still shot 63. But I still, you know, I still had it within reach. If I don’t make those bogeys and I make par, we’re right there.

“So he definitely made the birdies when he needed to. But I also made bogeys. When you’re getting bogeys at that time of the tournament they’re costly. I definitely felt the weight of that.”

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at