BROOKLINE, Mass. — Midway through the U.S. Open, Collin Morikawa stood atop the leaderboard seeking to add a 3rd major championship to his résumé.
But on moving day, as Saturdays are called on the PGA Tour, Morikawa uncharacteristically went backward. After a seven-over-par 77, Morikawa found himself six shots off the pace when he teed off on Sunday. It proved to be too great a deficit to beat to maneuver back into contention, but he walked off the course on the Country Club greater than satisfied, having improved his rating by 11 shots from the previous round.
“I don’t know if I discovered something,” he said after his 66 moved him to 2 under par and right into a tie for fifth. “I believe it just taught me that I want to go play golf. This yr has been so focused on attempting to hit that cut and attempting to be so perfect, and that’s who I’m. But just exit and play. Things are going to be tough. The ball is just not going to go where you would like. But just figure it out.”
Morikawa, the defending British Open champion and the 2020 P.G.A. Championship winner, played a bogey-free back nine in dank, cool conditions. He got here to the 18th green figuring he needed to make a birdie to have any probability. But his putt got here up a foot short.
“I had some momentum, form of carrying on,” said Morikawa, who shot a 32, three under par, on the back nine. “If I could have gotten to 4, that may be a pleasant number to post. It was still a couple of short, however it was a much-needed round.”
Morikawa shot 66 on Friday, emerging as a co-leader, with Joel Dahmen, after two rounds. Then got here the disaster on Saturday, when his round featured 4 bogeys, two double-bogeys and only one birdie.
He had said before the tournament that he was combating his iron play. He normally plays a left-to-right cut shot, but recently the ball had been going right-to-left, he said. But Morikawa had little trouble the primary two days.
“With the best way I had been playing, I didn’t see that coming,” he said.
He added: “I hope many seven-overs aren’t coming in the longer term. However it just form of made me refocus and form of just get back into things. Just get it off the tee, onto the green, after which worry about it from there.”
Morikawa called Sunday’s round “an enormous boost” and said he would remember the weekend more for his three sub-70 scores than the Saturday meltdown. Before the third round, his worst rating in a U.S. Open had are available 2020 at Winged Foot in Latest York, where he opened with a 76 and missed the cut.
Last yr, he finished in a tie for fourth at Torrey Pines near San Diego. He then went on to win his second major, besting Jordan Spieth by two strokes at Royal St. George’s.
As was the case last yr, Morikawa said he planned to play the Scottish Open to tune up for this yr’s British Open at St. Andrews, a course he said he had not yet played. But he said he understood it might be lots different for him this time around for 2 reasons: his status because the reigning champion and the venue, the historic Old Course.
“I believe I’m going to should do a extremely good job prioritizing each day and splitting up what I want to concentrate on,” he said. “Whether it’s the golf or whether I just have to enjoy just being there at St. Andrews, back because the defending champion.”
He added, “There’s going to be a pair more distractions, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be specializing in golf when the time comes.”
This was Morikawa’s 14th official tour event of the season. He tied for second on the Genesis Invitational in February and placed second on the CJ Cup at Summit in the autumn. He finished fifth on the Masters Tournament, closing in style by holing out from the bunker on the 72nd hole.
Along with his two majors, Morikawa has three other PGA Tour victories, all coming before he turned 25. He won twice last season; the World Golf Championships and the British Open. He also won the DP World Championship in 2021. Entering the U.S. Open, he was ranked No. 7 within the Official World Golf Rankings and was twentieth in points on the FedEx Cup list.
Along with the golf events Morikawa has planned, there is also a marriage coming as much as his longtime girlfriend, Katherine Zhu. Unlike Brooks Koepka, who publicized his June wedding, Morikawa wouldn’t disclose any plans of the upcoming nuptials.