Collin Morikawa should’ve cruised to the first PGA Tour title of 2023 and his first victory in 17 months. The 25-year-old held a dominant six-stroke lead heading into the final round of last weekend’s Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, but three bogeys in his final five holes opened the door for Jon Rahm to steal a backdoor victory.
It’d be easy for Morikawa to dwell on this meltdown and allow it to lead him down a dark path, but if he focuses on the positives that came from his weekend in Hawaii, the golfer can use this setback to propel him to a career year on the PGA Tour.
Collin Morikawa collapsed in historic fashion at the Sentry Tournament of Champions
Morikawa was in firm control of the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions after three rounds. The California product built a six-shot lead at 24 under par heading into the final round, and he didn’t make a single bogey until the back nine on Sunday.
His first dropped shot of the tournament came on the par-4 14th hole. Then came another at the par-5 15th. Then another at the par-4 16th.
Meanwhile, Rahm drained three straight birdies on his back nine then eagled the 15th to suddenly take the outright lead. The Spaniard birdied the par-5 18th hole to grow his lead to three strokes, and just like that, Morikawa was out of the running.
It was a shocking collapse from the two-time major champion, one that tied the record for the largest blown 54-hole lead in PGA Tour history. Yet, there are more positives than negatives Morikawa can take from his Sunday implosion.
Collin Morikawa’s meltdown can propel him to a career year
Morikawa has been arguably the best iron player in the world ever since he joined the PGA Tour as a full-time member in 2019. He’s finished his first three seasons ranked second, first, and third on Tour in strokes gained on approach, which led him to five early wins and two major titles before he turned 25.
The only reason Morikawa doesn’t have more wins is his putter. The ball-striking wizard has finished 128th, 178th, and 131st on Tour in strokes gained from putting. He’s tinkered with various grips and strokes over the last three years, but he just hasn’t cracked the code on the greens yet.
When he does putt well, though, good luck keeping up with him. In the nine PGA Tour starts in which Morikawa has gained at least 1.0 strokes from putting, he’s won three times and finished runner-up another four times.
Morikawa went to work this offseason in an effort to fix his putting stroke, reaching out to putting guru Stephen Sweeney in October. The two have been working together since, and Morikawa is already seeing a rapid improvement.
At the sentry TOC, Morikawa finished with a true strokes gained from putting mark of +1.58. That’s his best mark since the Genesis Invitational last February and the third-best of his entire career. It could’ve been his best-ever putting week had he not lost 1.10 strokes from putting on Sunday alone. Still, his putting stroke looked smoother than ever, and he seemed confident standing over every putt for the first time in a while.
If Morikawa can become even a mediocre putter with more help from Sweeney, he has the raw talent and ball-striking ability to rattle off five wins and another major or two this season. This past weekend was a step in the right direction for Morikawa, and he can’t let his Sunday meltdown spoil what should serve as an impetus for a career season.