Did you enjoy the show? Collin Morikawa took down Justin Thomas in a three-hole playoff on Sunday that had more peaks and valleys than the Nasdaq since the coronavirus pandemic began. They were joined by Viktor Hovland for the first 18 holes, but he exited stage left when the playoff began before Morikawa finally ended the festivities with a par on the 75th hole of the week.
Morikawa took the reins early in Round 4 -- despite trailing by three strokes going in -- by hitting consecutive approaches from 202 yards and 234 yards to a combined 52 inches on the fourth and fifth holes. He played his first five holes in 4 under while J.T. stalled out and skidded down the front nine.
Things flipped on the par-3 8th where Thomas made birdie and then four more in his next six holes. Then came the 15th for Thomas -- the club-twirling, leg-kicking 15th where he hit a 23-footer for eagle -- his 10th straight one-putt -- to go up three on Morikawa. The end, right? It sure felt like it.
But Thomas would bogey two of the final three, and Morikawa played them in 1 under to take him to extra time. It got silly from there. After bad drives and mediocre approaches at the 18th hole (the first playoff hole), J.T. hit a dizzying 50-footer for birdie to presumably win. Or that's how it felt ... again. Of course, Morikawa, who narrowly sneaked in a 1-footer on 18 to get in the playoff, banged a 23-footer to go to a second playoff hole.
Thomas and Morikawa halved the second playoff hole, and then Morikawa took his second PGA Tour win with a par on the third playoff hole after Thomas drove it behind a tree and couldn't escape jail from there. It was a lousy way for the event of the year to end, but Morikawa surely doesn't mind.
The victory moves him up to No. 13 in the world, which is apropos given the kind of golf he's played of late. This was Morikawa's second playoff since the PGA Tour restarted a month ago (he lost the other one to Daniel Berger at the Charles Schwab Challenge). In between those two playoffs, he experienced the first missed cut of his career at the Travelers Championship, which means he now has more wins (2) than missed cuts (1).
He might not be a star in the broader golf world yet, but Sunday should tell you everything you need to know about him. After hanging around without his best stuff on Saturday and playing the last six holes in 1 under to get within three going into Sunday, he burned the place down with his irons on Sunday. As Chris Solomon noted here, the proper word is "relentless." Only nine players gained two or more strokes on approach shots on Sunday. Morikawa gained six!
To trail the No. 5 golfer on the planet by three and watch him make 10 one-putts in a row before taking a three-stroke lead to the 16th tee and still win this thing is astonishing. Morikawa has been a certified stud, and this was a hell of a way to prove it. Grade (for both Morikawa and Thomas): A+
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Viktor Hovland (3rd) -- He actually nearly matched Thomas in strokes gained from tee to green but couldn't make a putt. His hopes drowned on the par-4 14th when his tee shot went in the water, but Sunday was a great experience for him. Closing is an art, and Hovland got a close-up look at one of the best closers in the world on Sunday. You could argue -- and my colleague Rick Gehman has argued -- that Hovland has been the best player in the world since the Tour returned amid this pandemic a little over a month ago. I don't expect that to change anytime soon. Grade: A
Chase Seiffert (4th) -- Who? Seiffert was playing just the 21st PGA Tour event of his career and got in as the last player in the field earlier this week. This was his best-ever performance in the big leagues and his best showing anywhere in over 12 months. He's a former teammate of Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka at Florida State, and he nearly earned as much on Sunday as he did in his first 20 Tour events combined. Grade: A+
Rickie Fowler (T22) -- A good week for Fowler ends unceremoniously. He was even in Round 1, 9 under combined in the middle two rounds and then 1 over in the final round on Sunday. Still, the ball-striking was terrific this week compared to what it has been over the last few events. Fowler sounds like he's gaining some confidence with the new move, and the numbers show it. He finished in the top 15 from tee to green, and is now set up nicely to have a good Memorial Tournament next weekend. Grade: B+