On a day where the golfing world paid homage to Tiger Woods with a “Red Out,” Collin Morikawa showed his support in another way. By closing out a 54-hole lead in Tiger-like fashion at the WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession.
Morikawa made 23 birdies through the opening three rounds and fell one short of the 54-hole tournament record set by none other than Tiger. He carded nine birdies en route to a 64 on Friday and then another eight during Saturday’s round of 67. That stretch of stellar play pushed his lead to five strokes at its peak.
However, The Concession course, named after the honorable act that defined the 1969 Ryder Cup where the U.S. and Europe tied following a concession on the final hole, is not as forgiving as its name implies. Morikawa’s lead shrunk to all-square after four holes in the final round. But the young Cal Bear maintained the poise-beyond-his-years that’s defined his career until this stage.
With birdies on three of the last five close his opening nine on the final round, he was in full control of his emotions and swing. His stellar iron play, a calling card of his game, propelled him to No. 1 in Strokes Gained Approach (2.386) and Strokes Gained Tee to Green (3.13).
Once he reached the green, the sixth ranked player in the world showed significant improvement on the greens compared to his recent play. Coming into the week, he ranked 213th on Tour in Strokes Gained Putting (-.681). In his WGC win, he finished 10th at .988. The improvements aligned with a change to the saw grip, which his coach Rick Sessinghaus says he’s grown comfortable and confident with over the last few weeks. A chance conversation with Tour great Mark O’Meara at the Summit Club in Las Vegas led Collin to the new grip. Collin made a couple personal adjustments and off he went.
“From a performance standpoint, Collin was releasing the putter more freely, which leads to better speed control on longer putts and better club face control on shorter putts. Now that he has worked on it and had a lot of success the past two rounds, his confidence is very high. He trusts the method.”– RICK SESSINGHAUS, MORIKAWA’S COACH
Morikawa made the switch to the Spider FCG earlier this year at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, and at the same point added the 2021 TP5 golf ball with the all-new Tour Flight Dimple Pattern. Both the putter and ball have been in the bag ever since. Collin added a SIM2 5-wood, which played a vital role on some of long par 3s at The Concession – particularly during the final round at the 241-yard fourth. On the week, Collin played the difficult par 3s at even par for the week, while the field finished a combined 80-plus over on those holes.
Collin found 83.93% of fairways on the week with his SIM driver (8°) and SIM Rocket 3-wood (14°). His combination of P•7MC (4-6) and P•730 irons (7-PW) helped him finish T2 in Greens In Regulation (77.8%).
It was Collin’s fourth PGA Tour victory and first WGC Championship. With the win, he becomes just the second player to win a WGC and a major before the age of 25. One guess who the other is.