Brooklyn, MA – Halfway through the US Open, Colin Morikawa stood at the top of the leaderboard looking to add a third major championship to his resume.
But on Transition Day, as Saturdays on the PGA Tour are called, Morikawa bounced back uncharacteristically. After seven over 77, Morikawa found himself six shots out of pace when he started on Sunday. He proved too short a deficit to return to competition, but he derailed at the Country Club more than satisfied, having improved his tally with 11 shots from the previous round.
“I don’t know if I found something,” he said after the 66-year-old pushed him into the sub-par and then into a tie for fifth. “I think that It just taught me that I need to play golf. This year he’s been so focused on trying to make that cut and trying to be so perfect, that’s who I am now. But just go out and play. Things are going to be tough and the ball won’t go where you want it to. But just find out.”
British Open champion and 2020 PGA Championship winner Morikawa played a stealth-free nine in wet, calm conditions. He came to the green number eighteen he needed to make a bird for any chance he had. But his shot was short.
“I had some momentum, kind of carry on,” said Morikawa, who shot a 32, three under par, on a nine in the back. “If I could get four, that would be a great number to post. It was still short, but it was a much-needed round.”
Morikawa shot 66 on Friday, appearing as co-leader with Joel Dahmin, after two rounds. Then disaster came on Saturday, when his tour included four phantoms, two double phantoms and only one bird.
He had said before the tournament that he was struggling with his iron play. He usually plays a left-to-right cutout, but the ball has recently been heading from right to left, he said. But Morikawa had little problems in the first two days.
“The way I was playing, I wasn’t expecting it,” he said.
He added, “Hopefully, not many seven games come in the future. But it made me sort of refocus and get back to things. Just get him off the tee, into the right lane, and then worry about him from there.”
Morikawa described Sunday’s tour as a “big boost” and said he would remember the weekend more than the crash result he got on Saturday. Prior to the third round, his worst result came at the US Open in 2020 at Winged Foot Stadium in New York, where he opened with a score of 76 and was unable to score.
Last year, he finished a tie for fourth at Torrey Pines near San Diego. He then went on to win his second major, beating Jordan Spieth by two strokes at Royal St. George.
As was the case last year, Morikawa said he plans to play the Scottish Open to adapt to this year’s British Open in St Andrews, a tournament he said he has yet to play. But he said he understood it would be a lot different for him this time for two reasons: his standing as a champion, and the venue, the old historic stadium.
“I think I’m going to have to do a really good job of prioritizing each day and breaking down what I need to focus on,” he said. “Whether it’s golf or whether I just need to enjoy being there in St Andrews, as the defending champion.”
He added, “There will be more distractions, but that doesn’t mean I won’t focus on golf when the time comes.”
This was the 14th official event of Morikawa’s official tour this season. He tied for second place at the Genesis Invitational in February and finished second at the CJ Cup at Summit in the fall. He finished fifth in the Masters, finishing in style by breaking out of the vault on the 72nd hole.
In addition to his majors, Morikawa racked up three more PGA Tour victories, all of which came before his 25th birthday. He won twice last season; The World Golf Championship and the British Open. He also won the DP World Championship in 2021. Entering the US Open, he ranked seventh in the official world golf rankings, and was number 20 in points on the FedEx Cup list.
In addition to the golf events that Morikawa has planned, there is also a wedding approaching for his old girlfriend Catherine Cho. Unlike Brooks Koepka, who announced his wedding in June, Morikawa has not revealed any plans for the impending marriage.