SAN FRANCISCO – The shock will be remembered as one of the best under pressure that hardly anyone has seen. That made Collin Morikawa a great champion Sunday in a PGA-minute-minute Championship that not many will forget.
Morikawa hit the driver in the 16th yard hole 294 that was perfect in flight and even better when he landed, jumping on the green and rolling on 7 feet for an eagle that all but captured the victory in one afternoon quieter Sunday in Harding Park.
In the first major without spectators, the 23-year-old Californian ended with a bang.
“I was hoping for a really good bounce and I got it,” he said. “I hit a really good ball, and now we’re here.”;
He closed with a 6-under 64, the lowest final round from a PGA champion in 25 years, for a two-goal win over Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson, two of 10 players who had a chance at nine.
Morikawa was among seven players tied for the lead, as wild as every Sunday in a major. He took the lead when shooting for birds from 40 yards out less than the 14th green. And then he delivered the knockout at a swing along the shores of Lake Merced,
The COVID-19 pandemic that moved the PGA Championship from May to August was only allowed to be played if spectators were not allowed. But he was a person who will not forget what he saw.
Casey, with his first good shot to win a major, made the bird in 16th place to tie Morikawa to the lead. Standing on par-3 17, he looked back and saw the ball roll towards the cup.
“What a goal,” was all Casey could say. Collin had taken that challenge and pulled it off. This is what champions do. ”
The last major Golf Champion was still near Harding Park just over a year ago, completing his degree in California and his All-American career, part of a new cast of young stars in a sport filled with them.
He only played Harding Park about a dozen times while he was in college, but never settled on tough as this or with women all the time.
He now has three PGA Tour victories and is No. 5 in the world, taking his place among the young stars by defeating a cast of world-class players on the public course in San Francisco.
For Johnson, it was another major that left. He had a one-stroke lead and did not make much of a mistake that day except he did not keep it on track for better chances for lovers. He got into danger at 16 and put it on the birds when it was too late, and one bird on the 18th gave him a 68 and a tie per second.
It was his fifth racing finish in the main event – his only title is Open US 2016 – and his second direct competitor in the PGA Championship.
Brooks Koepka testified that it was all talk. He looked into the crowded presidency Saturday night and saw no one with his experience of the four major leagues, even having lunch at Johnson because he “has only won one”.
Koepka did not make a bird until the 12th hole. He went from two kicks back to a 74, being loved for the 29th.
“It’s my first bad round on a lead within a time,” said Koepka, who said he spent nine backs mainly trying to cheer on Casey and his attempt to win a first-age senior 43 years old.
Youth regulate these days.
Morikawa ended up at 13 under 267 and left many others wondering how close they came.
Matthew Wolff, who grew up with Morikawa in Southern California and turned pro last summer with him, shot a 65-year-old and joined Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau and PGA Tour rookie Scottie Scheffler at the age of 10 under 270 .
Cameron Champ, among the eight players who had a share of the lead at one point, lost momentum with a dual aircraft in turn. DeChambeau fired two shots in turn and never caught until it was too late.
Morikawa, only in his 28th start as a professional and his second major, played foolishly. His only mistake was in the end, when it came time to raise the Wanamaker trophy, the heaviest of the four major trophies. The lid pulled back and fell on the grass as Morikawa’s eyes swelled.
If this was his only mistake, consider it a good day. A great day.