After winning his second major at the 2021 Open Championship, it appeared that Collin Morikawa was going to be the next big thing in the golf world. Here the 2023 ZOZO Championship Recap!
That still might happen, but if it does, it could be after a dominating Sunday that gave the American who is half-Japanese a win at the ZOZO Championship, Japan’s only PGA Tour event of the year.
“It feels so good, I can’t even explain it,” Morikawa said. “I knew I was going to get here at some point. It’s like getting your first win, your first major.”
Morikawa was two shots behind third-round leader Justin Suh going into Sunday’s final round. Suh shot a 4-over 74, while Eric Cole and Beau Hossler—tied for second after 54 holes—shot even par. Morikawa blazed through Narashino Country Club outside Tokyo with a 6-under 63 to win by a whopping six strokes. His 14-under 266 was six shots better than Cole and Hossler’s 8-under 272.
During his winless drought that lasted 27 months, Morikawa was on the other end of a Sunday blitzkrieg. Jon Rahm made short work of Morikawa’s six-stroke lead at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January of this year. Morikawa was also on the losing end of a playoff at the Rocket Mortgage Championship, but today, he reminded the world of his talent.
“It wasn’t like I didn’t believe I was going to have another win or … when that was going to happen. It was just more about when it was going to happen, right?” said Morikawa after the final round. “I think the thoughts in your head start piling up of like, OK, well, what did I do differently, what do I need to change?”
Morikawa said that he and his wife, Katherine, came to Japan early to see the sights and have several meals in Tokyo. It was the first time he won since the two were married.
“She hasn’t been to a win since — it’s been a long time since she’s actually been at the tournament since we won. So it’s nice to have her here,” he said.
Hossler’s runner-up finish moved him into 51st in the FedEx Cup standings, which nearly secures a spot into the “Next 10,” which will grant him entry into the first few Signature Events on the 2024 PGA Tour schedule. As co-runner-up, Cole solidified his case to be the Rookie of the Year on the PGA Tour.
Ryo Ishikawa was the highest-finishing Japanese-born player, tying for fourth with Robby Shelton at -7.
Australian Min Woo Lee shot a 65 on Sunday to move up 12 spots to sixth in the final leaderboard, tying with J.J. Spaun and Japanese golfers Ryo Hisatsune and Kensei Hirata.
Suh and Emiliano Grillo tied for 10th. Two of the pre-tournament favorites struggled throughout the tournament: Xander Schauffele finished 38th while 2021 ZOZO Championship winner Hideki Matsuyama was 51st.
The PGA Tour takes a week off to give players a break after the long trip to and from Japan. When it resumes in two weeks, it will be in Mexico for the World Wide Technology Championship. The tournament will see a venue change from Mayakoba to the El Cardonal course in Cabo San Lucas. Russell Henley is the defending champion.
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