If you’re a golf fan, this weekend was about as good as it gets. If you’re not a golf fan, we’re a little confused as to why you’ve subscribed to this newsletter. But welcome!
A Sunday to remember
Sunday at the 2020 PGA Championship was one of the most entertaining final rounds in recent memory. Seven players were tied for the lead at different times, but in the end, Collin Morikawa separated himself from the pack at TPC Harding Park. The 23-year-old made two early birdies, survived the course’s difficult middle stretch, chipped in for birdie on the 14th hole, and hit the shot of his life on the par-4 16th. Morikawa’s drive traveled 292 yards and stopped within eight feet of the cup. He holed the eagle putt and went on to win by two shots over Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey. PGA Championship Results
If you’ve been reading this newsletter for any period of time, you know Collin Morikawa’s story. He was a star at Cal, emerged as one of the best ball-strikers on the PGA Tour last summer, and now has a major championship to go with two other tour wins. In less than 18 months, Morikawa has gone from a college senior to No. 5 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He finished in the top 20 in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Approach this week while leading the field in SG: Putting.
But the most impressive thing about Collin Morikawa might be his attitude. He took a punch to the gut when he let this year’s Charles Schwab Classic slip through his fingers. After that loss, his college coach Walter Chun said, “He’ll bounce back. He always does.” It took Morikawa exactly four weeks to do so; at the Workday Charity Open, he took down Justin Thomas in a dramatic playoff. Those experiences, and the lessons he learned from them, must have helped him down the stretch at the PGA, as he calmly pieced together a stellar final nine. His 129 (65-64) on Saturday and Sunday was the lowest weekend total of any men’s major champion in history. Oh, and he’s already got to be the PGA Tour Player of the Year.
Morikawa is special, and he’s here to stay.
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While Morikawa left everyone behind in the end, most of Sunday at TPC Harding Park proceeded under a fog (pun intended) of uncertainty. Many players had a chance to win, and every putt felt like it was to tie or take the lead. Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey, Matthew Wolff, Tony Finau, Scottie Scheffler, Cameron Champ, Bryson DeChambeau, Jason Day, Justin Rose, and Xander Schauffele all either tied for the lead or got within one shot of it at some point. That’s insane! CBS frontloaded its coverage with commercials and did a decent job of keeping track of the abundant contenders down the stretch. All in all, it was an excellent few hours of entertainment.
Odds and ends
Well, he certainly could have played worse. Dustin Johnson, the 54-hole leader, wound up with a final-round 68 but ultimately fell short at yet another major. The 21-time PGA Tour winner still has just one career major championship, a number that just doesn’t match his talent. He now has 18 top 10s in majors and five runner-ups. As DJ enters his late 30s, you have to figure he senses that the clock is ticking.
Paul Casey earned his first top 10 at a major since the 2017 Masters with his T-2 at the PGA Championship. The Englishman was nothing if not consistent this week: he went 68-67-68-66 and was a definite factor on Sunday.
Big hitters Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau fired matching rounds of 66 on Sunday on their way to a tie for fourth. Both players had a chance late in the tournament, but they just couldn’t keep pace with Morikawa.
The early clubhouse leader was 21-year-old Matthew Wolff, who notched a final-round 65 to get in at -10. Wolff led the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green by a wide margin, but he struggled mightily on and around the greens. Still, a T-4 finish in your first career major is nothing to sniff at.
Brooks Koepka did some talking late Saturday and didn’t exactly back it up on Sunday. After his third round, Koepka seemed to dismiss the rest of the leaderboard, including his lifting buddy Dustin Johnson. “I like my chances,” he said. “When I’ve been in this position before, I’ve capitalized. I don’t know, [Johnson]’s only won one. I’m playing good. I don’t know, we’ll see.” He added, “A lot of the guys on the leaderboard, I don’t think have one [major].” While brash by golf standards, these statements certainly weren’t wrong. But of course media and fans worked themselves into a tizzy, expecting some kind of showdown on Sunday. Unfortunately, the four-time major winner beat just one player in the field yesterday, shooting 74 for a T-29.
When asked about Brooks Koepka’s comments yesterday, Rory McIlroy offered some interesting sound bites of his own. According to Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport, McIlroy said, “It’s sort of hard to knock a guy that’s got 21 wins on the PGA Tour, which is three times what Brooks has.” Also accurate.
Tying Collin Morikawa for round of the day was Ben An, who made six birdies and a hole-in-one to jump 37 spots and finish T-25.
Top-ranked junior Rose Zhang outlasted Gabi Ruffels over 38 holes to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur on Sunday. The final went back and forth all day, and Zhang made a phenomenal up-and-down on the 36th hole to extend the match. The match ended on the second extra hole when Ruffels’s three-foot par putt lipped out.
At the Marathon LPGA Classic, Lydia Ko had a big lead on playing partner Danielle Kang midway through the back nine. Ko proceeded to make a bogey on the No. 14, another on the No. 16, and a double bogey on the final hole to lose to Kang by one. It was brutal to watch. For Kang, it was her second consecutive win. She’s two-for-two since the LPGA Tour’s restart. Marathon LPGA Classic Leaderboard
Alabama product Lee Hodges held on to win his first Korn Ferry Tour event at the WinCo Foods Portland Open this weekend. Not only that, but the victory moved Hodges inside the top five of the KFT season-long points race, earning him a spot in the U.S. Open. Results
Andy Sullivan dominated the English Championship this weekend. The Englishman shot 66-62-64-65 to win by seven shots over Adrian Otaegui. Results
Tiger Woods didn’t explicitly state his schedule for the rest of the season, but it sounds like he plans to take part in the FedEx Cup Playoffs before the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
The State of the Mega Muni – TPC Harding Park isn’t just a muni; it’s what we like to call a “mega muni.” In a new article, Garrett Morrison discusses this important genre of government-owned golf facility, its history, and its uncertain future.
Shotgun Start: The Morikawa Era, Brooksy talks then fades, and the DJ Dilemma
It took longer than anyone expected to get there, but the first major championship of the year delivered. Andy and Brendan return for one more daily reaction to the PGA and Collin Morikawa’s win at Harding Park. They assess Morikawa’s rapid ascent since turning pro, his future, and some potential comps to other young superstars. They also drool over the shot at 16, which Andy characterizes as an “approach shot” and not a drive to maintain the integrity of one of his oldest arguments. Then they run through the many contenders and characters from a manic day. DJ’s result is viewed leniently relative to some of his other major shortcomings. Bryson is buoyed. Some younger stars have holes to fill to get to Morikawa level. Some final thoughts on Harding Park, CBS, clouds, the skyline, and the activation timepiece are also included before they run through some of the other results from the weekend, including Brendan’s stroll at the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.