KAPALUA, Hawaii — The ultimate query of Collin Morikawa’s Saturday post-round press convention didn’t fairly land.
Had he ever held a big-time 54-hole lead like this earlier than?
“Properly, Hero,” he stated with a smile. “It’s okay, I’m over it.”
Ah, yeah, that one. Chances are you’ll recall that Morikawa entered the 2021 Hero World Problem with an opportunity to take over the title of World No. 1. In that match, he shot 8-under 64 to take a five-shot lead heading to the ultimate spherical. However then he shot 41 on the entrance 9 on Sunday, in the end settling for T5 as Viktor Hovland went on to win.
That match ushered in a difficult 2022 for Morikawa. He was a sufferer of his personal success, to an extent; two majors earlier than age 25 units the bar unreasonably excessive. It’s not as if he performed poorly; he logged a handful of top-five finishes together with one on the Masters and one other on the U.S. Open. However the season dragged. He didn’t get the outcomes he needed. His world rating continued to slip.
“Final 12 months felt so lengthy,” he stated. “That center of the season actually from Gamers all through the playoffs simply felt prefer it by no means ended.” He used the phrase “looking” a pair instances. Largely, it appears like he’s been trying to find a win.
“It’s felt like some time, particularly because you see my friends and buddies rise up to the highest and, yeah. Tomorrow’s an enormous one.”
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Three rounds into the 2023 calendar 12 months, it’s powerful to think about anyone enjoying higher golf than Morikawa. He’s opened with rounds of 64-66-65 at Kapalua’s par-73 Plantation Course. He seems in full command of his golf swing — he’s third in strokes gained from tee to inexperienced — and his biggest weak point, the putter, has seemed like a superpower. He’s second in strokes gained placing. Oh yeah, and he hasn’t made a bogey.
Morikawa kicked off his Saturday scoring with an eagle on the par-5 fifth. He poured in a 20-footer for birdie on the sixth. He bought up and down for birdie on the par-5 ninth. His lead grew.
Birdies at 14, 15 and 16 widened the hole. His lead was 5 enjoying the 18th. And simply when Scottie Scheffler appeared poised to select up a shot, Morikawa dropped in a 15-footer for birdie. When Scheffler missed his subsequent four-footer, the lead grew to become six.
Now it’s closing time.
Requested what’s at stake on Sunday, Morikawa had a easy reply.
“Successful the golf match. That’s all it’s. I believe it’s each time you’re in these positions, simply successful the golf match. It’s nothing else. I don’t care about the rest. I wish to win.”
There’s lots that might include a victory. He’d personal the honour of first designated occasion champion (or elevated occasion champ, or…we’re engaged on it.) He’d have his sixth PGA Tour win and his first because the 2021 Open Championship. He’d validate his work with new placing and quick sport coaches Stephen Sweeney and Parker McLachlin. He’d avenge that misplaced Hero lead. Plus there’d be the little bonus of a $2.7 million first-place test. However he is aware of higher than to get forward of himself.
“I do know it’s going to take quite a bit,” he stated. “There’s going to be a variety of guys on the market which might be going to be firing at pins, making a variety of birdies early on. In order that’s only for me to simply form of do what I’ve been doing, staying affected person, give myself alternatives and let ’em fall.”
Morikawa says he seems ahead to each PGA Tour spherical as a result of they’re alternatives. Whether or not you’re in first or final, there’s one thing to study. Not this time.
“Tomorrow it’s not about studying. I’m going to place form of all the things I’ve been by and all the things I’ve completed previously and simply form of use that to my benefit, hopefully, and simply begin gap 1 and go robust for 18. It’s an extended day on the market.”
With an enormous prize on the finish.
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