Morikawa’s Miracle

I have been studying the PGA Tour for 30+ years. I’m fascinated by the unique performance of the event winners on Tour – both what they tend to have in common and what stands out and occasionally breaks the mold. Collin Morikawa’s performance was one of the latter in his narrow victory this Sunday at the Workday Charity Open.

Collin had a disappointing 72 (even par) on Saturday to relinquish a 3 stroke lead over Justin Thomas and 5 strokes over Victor Hovland. Simply stated, he lost the feel and direction of his approach game in hitting only 9 of 18 greens/targets. His Approach Strokes Gained for the day was -1.54. Not a winning number, and I imagine that the pundits gave the youngster little chance of a bounce-back against the now grizzled veteran, 12-time winner, Justin Thomas.

BUT bounce back he did by magically transforming his approach game. In the 4th round Collin hit 12 of 13 greens from the fairway producing a phenomenal 5.87 Approach Strokes Gained. To be clear, this means that Collin beat the FIELD by almost SIX strokes in his approach game alone. Six strokes in a part of the game that consisted of only 18 shots, or gaining .33 strokes with each Approach shot. To lend some perspective, IF the FIELD had hit all the greens that Collin hit in his incredible 4th round AND to their average of 32 feet from the hole, Collin’s average putting distance would have been 21 feet closer on EVERY shot – 11 feet from the hole.

Collin’s 5.87 Strokes Gained is the highest single round # that I can remember seeing. The graph below displays his 3rd and 4th round approach accuracy vs. the field. Collin’s single missed approach shot was from very long range – 250-275 yards.

I can’t help but wonder: What turned his approach game around? Was it a serious talk with a coach or an epiphany on the range before tee off? Collin, if you see this let us know!

For a complete Strokes Gained analysis of your game, go to ShotByShot.com.

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