Collin Morikawa Wins PGA Championship
SAN FRANCISCO – Collin Morikawa made history Sunday when he became the first Cal player to win a major golf championship with a victory at the 102nd PGA Championship. Morikawa was in a seven-way tie for the lead at TPC Harding Park midway through the back nine of a bogey-free final round of 64 when he separated himself from the group by chipping in for birdie on the 14th hole and then two holes later drove the green on the par-four 16th and drained a seven-foot putt for eagle.
"The California Kid is the new star in the game of golf," CBS announcer Jim Nantz exclaimed on the CBS telecast after Morikawa tapped in for a par on 18.
Morikawa's win at the 102nd PGA Championship earned him a lifetime exemption into the event in addition to five-year exemptions to The Masters, the U.S. Open, The Open and the PGA TOUR. He also moved up seven spots to No. 5 in the latest World Golf Rankings after the victory.
According to Eiias Sports Bureau, Morikawa became the third-youngest player to win a PGA Championship and the fourth 23-year old. Rory McIlory became the youngest in 2012 when he also won at the age of 23 with both McIlroy and Jack Nicklaus (1963) slightly younger than Morikawa when they won their first. Tiger Woods (1999) was also 23 and slightly older than Morikawa when he won his first PGA Championship in 1999. Morikawa also became only the seventh player in The Masters era (since 1934) to win one of his first two starts in a major.
"It's amazing," Morikawa told Nantz about the victory at the post-match award ceremony. "It's been a life goal. As a little kid, you're kind of watching everyone, all these professionals. This is what I've always wanted to do. I felt very comfortable from the start – as an amateur, a junior golfer, turning professional last year – but to finally close it out here in San Francisco, pretty much my second home where I spent my last four years [at Cal], is pretty special."
Morikawa (69-69-65-64 – 267, -13) finished two strokes ahead of Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson with five others another shot behind the winner. Morikawa's 129 strokes on the final two days of the event were the lowest ever in a major, breaking the record of 130 held by five others. He also became only the 10th player in a major to shoot in the 60's for each of the event's four rounds.
Morikawa started Sunday's final round in a tie for fourth place after his seven-under 65 on Saturday had moved him up 21 spots from his tie for 25th after 36 holes. He moved into serious contention for the lead after back-to-back birdies on the par-three third and par-five fifth holes. After finishing with a two-under par 33 on the front nine, Morikawa opened the back nine with a birdie on the par-five 10th before taking his first solo lead with his chip-in on 14 and extending it with his eagle on 16.
Morikawa's victory was his third on the PGA TOUR and is the most by any Cal alum. His first title was just over a year ago in his sixth professional start on the PGA TOUR at the 2019 Barracuda Championship. He also won the Workday Charity Open last month and lost in a playoff at the Charles Schwab Challenge to give three top two finishes in seven starts since the PGA TOUR's restart in June. The Golden Bears now have a total of seven PGA TOUR titles from four alumni with the others James Hahn (2015 Northern Trust Open, 2016 Wells Fargo Championship), Michael Kim (2018 John Deere Classic) and Max Homa (2019 Wells Fargo Championship).
"I'm so happy for Collin," Cal's Alex and Marie Shipman Director of Men's Golf Walter Chun said. "As coaches, you're like parents and want them to excel and succeed. You don't know what's in store in their future, but you're so ecstatic when they find their success."
Morikawa played four seasons at Cal from 2015-19 and is the only four-time All-American and three-time first-team All-American in school history. He was also the Pac-12 Men's Golf Player of the Year and won the conference title as a senior in 2018-19.