Morikawa holds on to secure win and honor Tiger
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — The plan was for PGA champion Collin Morikawa to wear a red shirt with his black pants Sunday to show support for Tiger Woods as he recovers from career-threatening leg injuries from a car crash.
The clothes shipped to him never arrived, so Morikawa did the next best thing at the Workday Championship.
He played like him.
Staked to a two-shot lead, Morikawa shook off an early mistake, regained control around the turn, delivered two clutch putts and then played a steady hand on a Concession Golf Club course known for calamity.
Just like Woods has done so often, Morikawa forced everyone to catch him. No one did, and his 3-under 69 gave him a three-shot victory for his first World Golf Championship.
“With how good the field was, how good my game felt, to close it out with such a stacked leaderboard coming after me, it really means a lot,” Morikawa said.
He became the 24th player to win a major and a World Golf Championship title, and the 24-year-old Californian joined Woods as the only players to win both before turning 25.
Woods was 23 when he won the first of his 18 World Golf Championships.
Morikawa, who finished at 18-under 270, won for the fourth time in his last 34 starts on the PGA Tour. He finished three ahead of Brooks Koepka (70), Viktor Hovland (67) and Billy Horschel (70), who played with Morikawa in the final group and witnessed the supreme iron play that made him so hard to catch.
As for that red shirt? Morikawa thinks it got stuck in Tennessee because of the weather. He even sent his caddie to the distribution center to see if it arrived.
Woods suffered serious injuries to his right leg and foot when his SUV crashed off a road and tumbled down a hill in the Los Angeles suburbs on Tuesday. After a prolonged surgery to put the shattered bones back together, he is recovering and was said to be in good spirits.
“Red and black, we know that’s what Tiger does on Sundays, so just to join in and just let Tiger know we’re supporting him in the best way we can,” Finau said. “We’re still playing and we miss him out here, but it was cool just to be a part of that.”
The inspiration came from Woods. The instruction came from a pair of major champions.
Rock solid with his game and his emotions, Morikawa choked up ever so slightly when it was over talking about Woods and what he has meant to the game, and his paternal grandfather, who died last month.
“You don’t get to say thank you enough,” Morikawa said. “So , ‘Thank you, guys.'”
Outside of a chunked chip on the second hole that made him scramble for bogey, Morikawa didn’t miss a fairway the rest of the way and was rarely out of position.
Horschel caught Morikawa after three holes and tried to stay with him. Koepka had the last good chance to catch him until, trailing by three with a 35-foot eagle chance on the 17th hole, he three-putted for par.
Morikawa’s lead was back to three shots, and he never flinched the rest of the day.