Collin Morikawa outlasts Justin Thomas in playoff to win wild Workday

by 24USATVJuly 12, 2020, 7:40 p.m. 27
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On the strength of a closing 66 and a par on the third extra hole, Collin Morikawa defeated Justin Thomas in a playoff to win the Workday Charity Open on a wild final day in Dublin, Ohio. Here’s how Morikawa took the first of two straight events at Muirfield Village, where play finished up early on Sunday in an effort to avoid afternoon storms:

What it means: This is Morikawa’s second PGA Tour victory in just his 24th start since he turned pro last June. He broke through to claim full Tour membership with his win at the Barracuda last summer and proceeded to put together a run of 22 consecutive made cuts to start his pro career, putting him second to only Tiger Woods in that category. After the made-cut streak came to an end at the Travelers two weeks ago, Morikawa skipped the Rocket Mortgage and came back this weekend to rebound with a win at the Workday. Morikawa very nearly picked up title No. 2 last month at Colonial, when he lost to Daniel Berger in the first event of the post-COVID-19 restart. Three starts later, and he’s made up for the playoff loss with a playoff win. After just 13 months as a pro, Morikawa will crack the top 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He now has more wins (two) than missed cuts (one).

How it happened: Three back to start the final round, Morikawa raced into a tie for the lead when he played his first five holes in 4 under. He very nearly went ace-albatross at Nos. 4 and 5 but ended up settling for birdie-eagle instead:

Still, after a torrid stretch from Thomas in the middle of the round, Morikawa found himself right back where he started the day, three down, now with three to play. But a Thomas bogey at 16, a Morikawa birdie at 17 and a Thomas bogey at 18 erased the deficit and sent the pair to extras, where the fireworks continued. Thomas appeared to have the tournament won (again) when he poured in this bending 50-footer for birdie on the first playoff hole:

Only he was stymied by this response from Morikawa, which extended the proceedings:

Following a pair of pars once again at 18, the duo moved to the par-4 10th, where Thomas missed his tee shot to the right and was blocked by a tree, leading to a bogey. A found fairway, an approach to 8 feet and two putts later, Morikawa finally ended the tournament on the 75th hole of the week.

Best of the rest: Thomas’ run of 55 holes without a bogey came to an end with back-to-back dropped shots at Nos. 2 and 3. After starting the day two up, he found himself three down to both Morikawa and Hovland through just five holes. But he stormed back with four consecutive birdies on Nos. 8-11. One up on Morikawa though 14, he appeared to drop the hammer with this eagle at the par-5 15th:

It was the capper to an eight-hole stretch that Thomas played in 7 under par, taking him from three back to three ahead. But that lead disintegrated thanks in part to Thomas bogeys at 16 and 18. Thomas, who was seeking his 13th PGA Tour win and third this season, has now failed to close his last two 54-hole leads after coming up short earlier this year in Mexico. He falls to 3-2 in PGA Tour playoffs.

Biggest disappointment: The other member of the final group, Hovland found himself tied for the lead through five holes coming off three straight birdies, but that’s when he started to get a bit wayward. Two trips in the water at Nos. 6 and 14 both led to bogey and the latter mistake saw him fall out of contention for good. Nevertheless, the solo-third finish is the latest in a string of quality performances for this year’s Puerto Rico Open winner. Having played five weeks in a row since the restart, Hovland has finished: T-23, T-21, T-11, T-12, third.

Shots of the day: Morikawa and Thomas put together their own highlight reel, but as for everyone else on the course, Seiffert and Rory Sabbatini developed an interesting strategy for scoring at Muirfield Village. Both players on Sunday found the water, took a drop, and then holed out for birdie:

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