P.G.A. Championship: Collin Morikawa Wins His First Major Title

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The long-awaited first major golf tournament in a season upended by the coronavirus pandemic delivered an upstart winner on Sunday. Collin Morikawa, a 23-year-old Californian playing in just his second major, won the 102nd P.G.A. Championship at a spectator-free TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

Morikawa, who turned pro last summer, shot a six-under-par 64 on Sunday to finish at 13 under for the victory, his first in a major and the third over all in his brief time on the PGA Tour. Since the tournament became a stroke-play event in 1958, only two winners of a P.G.A. Championship have been younger: Jack Nicklaus in 1963 and Rory McIlroy in 2012.

Morikawa went into the final round two shots off the lead, which was held by Dustin Johnson, who tied for second with Paul Casey, at 11 under for the tournament.

The tournament at Harding, an unpretentious municipal course on the foggy southwestern edge of the city, was supposed to be held in early May, four weeks after the Masters, the traditional opening major for the men’s tour. The Masters is now scheduled for mid-November at Augusta National, and the United States Open at Winged Foot has been moved from June to mid-September. The British Open, the only men’s major held outside the United States, was canceled for the first time since World War II.

It’s amazing,” Morikawa, who played college golf about 21 miles away at California, said after receiving the Wanamaker Trophy on the 18th green.

“To close it out in San Francisco,” he added, “which is pretty much my second home, where I spent the last four years, is pretty special.”

Morikawa broke out of a tangled pack on the back nine, which at one point featured a seven-way tie at 10 under.

The mass of contenders included a blend of veterans like Casey, 43, and Johnson, 36, and a blast of the sport’s new wave. Matthew Wolff, 21, posted a 65 in the final round, and Scottie Scheffler, 24, was in the hunt until the end. They finished tied for fourth.

Surprisingly, the two-time defending P.G.A. Championship champion, Brooks Koepka, who made confident proclamations on Saturday night, tumbled off the leaderboard with a four-over 74 Sunday.

It was Morikawa’s time.

First, though, there was adversity.

His approach on the par-4 No. 14, from the fairway, came up a disappointing 15 yards short. It was then that Morikawa displayed the sang-froid and the soft hands that have characterized the brilliant start to his career.

He coolly lofted a clean chip from the fairway that rolled into the cup for a birdie.

A nearby pack of volunteers cheered, apparently feeling obliged to punctuate the silence for such a moment.

Morikawa had the lead.

The drivable par-4 No. 16, which presented a strategic challenge, loomed in the fog as the possible tipping point for the packed leaderboard. A handful of eagles by players earlier in the day loaded the hole with portent, and Casey made birdie there to tie Morikawa at 11 under.

It all set up Morikawa’s swing on the 16th tee box. He eyed the line and remembered a similar drive he hit at Muirfield Village in Ohio in his win at the Workday Charity Open last month.

“It fit my eye,” he said.

He unleashed the driver on an aggressive line. There would be no layup.

Morikawa’s bold play cut slightly toward the target, cleared a dangerous pack of cypress trees guarding the green and landed softly, rolling to a stop seven feet away. The shot instantly had the sheen of legend.

“We were hoping for a good bounce, and we got one,” Morikawa said.

Practicing on the range in case of a playoff, Casey could only marvel.

“What a shot he hit on 16,” said Casey, who shot a final-round 66. “Just awesome golf. There’s nothing you can do except tip your cap. Collin took on the challenge. That’s what champions do.”

To complete the script, Morikawa calmly rolled in the eagle putt for a two-stroke lead. Pars on Nos. 17 and 18 closed the deal.

A smiling Morikawa walked through a rope line of tournament volunteers, who cheered the new champion.

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