August 9, 2020
NorCal Connection: Cal Alum Collin Morikawa Wins PGA Championship
Cal-Berkeley alum Collin Morikawa came across the Bay and made history at the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park.
The 23-year-old, a two-time All-America Scholar who graduated from Cal in 2019, carded a clutch eagle on the par-4 16th and held on from there for a final round 64 to win his first major championship title in what was just his second start in a major.
Morikawa is the third-youngest winner of the PGA Championship since World War II, behind only Rory McIlroy and Jack Nicklaus. He also becomes the youngest player to break 65 in the final round of a major victory ever.
“It’s amazing. It’s been a life goal of mine since I was a little kid,” said Morikawa, a native of Los Angeles. “I felt very comfortable from the start of my career, as a junior, then as an amateur and then turning pro last year. To finally close it out here in San Francisco…it’s pretty special. It’s pretty much my second home where I spent the last four years.”
Statistically, Morikawa was lights out. He’d rank No.1 for the championship in both Fairways Hit and Strokes Gained Putting.
He’d get some help along the way from his caddie, JJ Jakovac, who played at CSU-Chico and formerly competed in NCGA amateur events. It didn’t hurt either that Morikawa had some familiarity with TPC Harding Park. During his days at Cal, he played the course around a dozen times.
“It helped having played here but it didn’t,” Morikawa said. “I still had to read the greens and come out and play. I guess my previous experience helped enough.”
Early in the round, Morikawa had two important par saves to stay in it. He’d later get some momentum by taking the lead after pitching in on the 14th. Two holes later on the 16th, still stuck within a crowded leaderboard, he distanced himself by making eagle after knocking a perfect drive that bounded within 10 feet of the flagstick.
He had a similar shot on the 14th at Muirfield Village in July when he won the Workday Charity Open.
“I did channel that shot at Muirfield,” Morikawa told announcer Jim Nantz. “The shot just fit my eye. We (he and Jakovac) were hoping for a good bounce.”
Morikawa shot 65-64 over the weekend, setting the lowest combined weekend score ever at a major. The previous record was 130 by Tom Watson (1977 Open Championship), Ian Baker-Finch (1991 Open Championship), Anders Forsbrand (1994 Open Championship), Marc Leishman (2015 Open Championship) and Tiger Woods (2018 PGA Championship).
The shot of Collin Morikawa’s life! pic.twitter.com/01AmFMxZ7n
— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) August 10, 2020