DUBLIN, Ohio – After missing the first cut of his pro career two weeks ago at the Travelers Championship, Collin Morikawa found his bread-and-butter cut.
Sure seems he’s whole again.
The youngster out of Cal followed his pace-setting 7-under-par 65 in Thursday’s first round with a 66 Friday at Muirfield Village Golf Club to extend his lead to six shots midway through the second round. Morikawa had things going so well he lost count of how many birdie circles he made on his scorecard.
“I didn’t even realize I made nine,” he said with a smile.
Well, you might lose track, too, if you fell into a routine of hitting the fairway, hitting your approach inside 10 feet and canning the putt. Morikawa made birdie putts of 2, 2, 6, 6, 6, 6, 8, 15 and 21 feet. Even a 75-minute storm delay didn’t thwart Morikawa as he knocked in his birdie from 6 feet on 7 less than a minute after the horn blew to resume play.
“For the most part, the game feels good from top to bottom,” Morikawa said. “Obviously nice to hit some approach shots, hit my cut that I just hadn’t had the past couple weeks. So it’s good to be back, and we’ve got two more days of the same thing.”
Morikawa, 23, began his pro career by making it to the weekend in his first 22 tournaments before falling short at the Travelers. Only Tiger Woods, with 25, had a better stretch to begin his career in the past 30 years.
Instead of moping, Morikawa hit the reset button and then rediscovered his cut on the eve of the tournament with help from his coach of 15 years, Rick Sessinghaus. Morikawa said he knew his ball-striking wasn’t to his standards at the RBC Heritage and then, after he felt fine in practice rounds at the Travelers, he couldn’t call upon his fade.
“So when I go take my week off, then you kind of go back to the drawing board, see what’s not working, what’s a little different,” he said. “I just didn’t have the cut shot where I could aim six yards left and be able to pull it back to the pin and feel comfortable wherever the pin was. For me, it just was a lot of rotational stuff, really basic stuff, just pretty much starting at the setup, and something we figured out actually late Wednesday after I finished my practice round stuck with me.
“It’s a drill I’ve been doing forever. I stick my left glove in my left armpit, swing, and that’s the most basic thing I could be doing, but it’s been working, so I’m just going to keep doing that and just worry about hitting my shots.”
And Morikawa isn’t about to change his approach on the weekend no matter how big a lead he has.
“If I get ahead of myself, that’s when bad things are going to happen, so I’ve got to look, see what my game plan has been the past two days and stick to that,” said Morikawa, who won the 2019 Barracuda Championship in just his sixth start as a pro. “Whether I have the lead or not, I’ve got to go into the weekend feeling like I’ve got to make the same (number) of birdies I have been the past two days.
“I feel like there’s a lot of birdies out there for me especially, the way I’ve been hitting it, so I’ve just got to keep that up, play smart, like I said, and attack pins when it’s available for me.”