ZOZO Championship - Round One
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Here's a true statement that feels false when you read it: Collin Morikawa has not won a PGA Tour event in 27 months, nor has he won a professional tournament of any kind in nearly two years. After shooting 64 in the first round of the Zozo Championship in Japan, though, he has one of his better chances to do so in a while.

Morikawa was flawless on Thursday at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club with six birdies, no bogeys and the outright lead by one over a group that includes Robby Shelton, Mikumu Horikawa, Eric Cole, Nicolai Hojgaard and Emiliano Grillo, all of whom shot 5 under. 

This ties Morikawa's best score on this course. He also shot 64 in 2019 and 2022 but did not finish in the top 20 in either of those two tournaments. The 64 in Round 1 was the first time he's opened this tournament at that number, though, and it comes after not having played since the Ryder Cup three weeks ago and not having played a stroke-play event anywhere since the Tour Championship at the end of August.

"Taking a few weeks off, you never know what you're going to get," said Morikawa. "But I've been kind of working on a few things trying to get control of the golf ball, spent a lot of time putting yesterday. It's nice to kind of see the work I've put in, just kind of recreate that on the golf course. Obviously you never know how it's going to be, but it was a fun round today."

It's a fun round that could lead to an important win -- not just because of the drought (which we'll get to in a minute) but because Morikawa is half Japanese with lineage on his father's side of the family. This is something he has spoken about proudly over the years and would add some weight to a victory. 

"There's obviously a little bit more meaning to this tournament for me," Morkiawa said. "But look, a win's a win. I'll take a win anywhere, right? I'm doing everything I can the next three days and kind of tonight to make sure I give myself the best opportunity to do that."

In addition to the stack of players at 5 under, Zac Blair is at 4 under. A big group, including Xander Schauffele, Cam Davis, Sahith Theegala and last year's champion, Keegan Bradley, is at 3 under just behind them. So Morikawa has a lot of work to do to secure what would be his first PGA Tour victory since the summer of 2021.

And why is it that Morikawa hasn't won in such a long time? Most of it, honestly -- and this neither a sexy nor satisfying answer -- probably has to do with win luck. Rick Gehman wrote recently that the Morikawa who won six times to start his career is not really that different of a player from the one that has not won at all since the 2021 Open Championship at Royal St. George's. The stat lines between "Old Morikawa" and "New Morikawa" are almost the exact same.

While there are surely nuances that those broad numbers cannot explain -- like his short game falling apart during the 2023 Tournament of Champions or the ease of winning a lot at an age of innocence -- they tell a story of somebody whose win résumé is going to level over time. Morikawa is probably not as good as his early win résumé would suggest, but he's certainly not as "bad" as his recent win résumé would suggest.

The answer, as with most things, is somewhere in the middle. Whether that course correction comes this weekend at the Zozo Championship remains to be seen, but 64, a one-shot lead and the best start he's ever had at this tournament foreshadow that it definitely could.