Collin Morikawa entered the final round of the 2021 Hero World Challenge with a five-shot lead and a real chance at being the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking. Instead he posted a 76, dropped to T-5, and hasn’t won since. Morikawa arrived at Detroit Golf Club this week ranked at No. 20 in the OWGR. He didn’t ultimately end up winning, he showed his most complete weekend of golf since early in 2023.

While Morikawa’s drop in the OWGR this season is notable, his play actually hasn’t been as bad as that freefall would make it seem. His ball-striking remains elite, and he hasn’t had any precipitous drops in terms of Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee or SG: Around-the-Green. According to Data Golf this season has been the strongest of Morikawa’s career in terms of Strokes Gained. What Morikawa hasn’t had in 2023 (aside from the Sentry Tournament of Champions) is the kind of strong putting week that allowed him to earn victories in 2020 and 2021. He wasn’t brilliant with the putter (T-24 in SG: Putting) at the Rocket Mortgage, but with his tee-to-green game Morikawa only needs above-average putting performances to contend.

It’s true that the last three months have been the least impressive stretch of Morikawa’s career. He’s missed three cuts in his last 11 starts, has just one top-10 finish in that span, and has been searching for consistency with the flatstick. But when looked at in a macro sense, Morikawa this run of form is probably just an outlier of a rough patch. Taken optimistically, even playing some of his worst golf, Morikawa’s floor is still a top-20 player in the world. His play this week in Detroit suggests he could be back on the rise.

This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.