Collin Morikawa had the lead by himself and lost it on each of the last two days of the Workday Charity Open, but in the end he was holding the trophy.
The 23-year-old Morikawa made a par on the second playoff hole to get past fifth-ranked Justin Thomas and claim the second victory of his PGA Tour career at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
“It was crazy,” said Morikawa, from La Canada Flintridge, who won the Barracuda Championship last July, not long after graduating from Cal. “Amazing, that’s how the day went. It was a long, long 21 holes. It was a grind. I knew from the start nothing was going to be given today.
“To go up against Justin in a playoff, he wasn’t going to give it to me, that’s for sure, and he definitely didn’t. Making that 50-footer on that first playoff hole, just forcing me to make something. And then we go to the second playoff hole and he’s 35, 40 yards behind me and he sticks it to whatever, 10, 12 feet. I just knew I had to keep putting on the pressure.”
Morikawa, who led after each of the first two rounds and was ahead again in the middle of the final round, overcame Thomas’ three-stroke lead to start the day with a 6-under-par 66, tying for the lead with a nine-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole.
They finished 72 holes at 19-under 269 after Thomas totaled 69.
Thomas, who fell three strokes behind at one stage of the final round, sank a 23-foot eagle putt at No. 15 for a three-stroke lead and seemed headed for his 13th PGA Tour victory until he made bogeys on the 16th and 18th holes. He didn’t have a bogey the first three days, but made four in the final round and another on the final playoff hole.
“I’m pretty pissed off,” said Thomas, who won the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges and the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this season. “That’s about the only way to explain it. I had a three-shot lead with three to go and just completely handed it over. Collin played great. He birdied a very tough hole on 17. Both made great birdies on the first playoff hole. But I had many chances to win this thing and didn’t get it done. The thing that sucks about golf is it hurts, but the great thing is that I have another chance next week.”
After Thomas sank an improbable 50-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole, Morikawa match him with a 24-footer to prolong the playoff, and both made pars on the second playoff hole.
On the deciding hole, Thomas drove behind a tree, had to lay up and missed a 14-foot par putt before Morikawa two-putted from 10 feet to win a month after he lost to Daniel Berger on the first hole of a playoff in the Charles Schwab Challenge.
“This is a huge kind of stepping-stone,” Morikawa said. “We got No. 1 out of the way, we got No. 2, let the gates just open and let’s just keep going because obviously it was a tough loss at Colonial a month ago, but I learned a lot.”
Viktor Hovland of Norway was tied for the lead with Morikawa midway through the final round, but made two bogeys coming home to shoot 71 and was four strokes back in third, followed by Chase Seiffert, who carded a 67 and was another shot behind in fourth.
Reigning U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland totaled 69 to finish seven down in a tie for fifth with Ian Poulter of England, who had a 70, while eighth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA shot 65 to wind up another stroke behind in a big tie for seventh with Jason Day (67) of Australia, Billy Horschel (66), Charley Hoffman (67) of Poway, Russell Henley (67), Sam Ryder (69) and Kevin Streelman (72).
Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, No. 11 in the world rankings and hoping to climb back into the top to, tied for 14th with a 70, second-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain had the low score of the day at 64 to tie for 27th and ninth-ranked Patrick Reed tied for 39th following a 70.
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