Golf

Collin Morikawa, 23, goes from fresh grad to Major winner in 14 months

Morikawa, 23, wins the PGA Championship in just his second Major appearance as young golfers shine

The performance of some of the PGA Tour's brightest young talents at the PGA Championship shows the future of golf is in good hands, as seasoned pros and veterans heaped praise on 23-year-old champion Collin Morikawa yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Morikawa, who turned professional 14 months ago and was appearing in just his second Major, shot a 64 for a 13-under 267 to top the leaderboard at TPC Harding Park.

While former world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and England's Paul Casey, who turned professional 20 years ago, ran Morikawa closest, the chasing pack featured the likes of 21-year-old Matthew Wolff, 24-year-old Scottie Scheffler and 26-year-old Bryson DeChambeau, who all finished three stokes back.

Cameron Champ, 25, was also in contention before he stumbled with a double bogey on the ninth hole and finished tied for 10th.

Brooks Koepka, 30, was impressed with how easily the younger players had made the transition from college golf to the professional ranks.

"You see these guys coming out of college now, they are ready to win," said Koepka, who had been going for a third straight PGA Championship victory.

"I think of that group, (Morikawa), Matt Wolff, Viktor Hovland, it's impressive what they do. They come out of college and they're ready to play out here."

England's Casey, 43, said it was clear Morikawa was going to be a force in the game.

"There's always a bunch of guys that rock up on the scene, and he didn't necessarily get the most publicity out of the group he was in. But you know, I can consider myself veteran - I've been around the block - so I know talent when I see it," he said.

Scheffler said that with younger players making waves and winners coming from anywhere in the field, "golf is in a great spot". "It seems like anyone can win on any given week, so it's exciting," he said.

"I think you saw it today, a lot of guys had a chance towards the end and congratulations to Collin, he had a great back nine today and a good golf tournament. Yeah, I think golf is in a good place."

With the win, Morikawa joined Rory McIlroy, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in winning the PGA Championship before turning 24.

"As an amateur, junior golfer, turning professional last year, but to finally close it off and come out here in San Francisco, pretty much my second home where I spent the last four years, is pretty special," said Morikawa, who grew up in Los Angeles but went to college at University of California, Berkeley, where he graduated with a degree in business administration last year.

China's top golfer Li Haotong was also among those who shone at this tournament. The 25-year-old fired rounds of 67 and 65 to take the halfway lead, becoming the first mainland Chinese golfer to top the leaderboard in any round of a men's Major.

But rounds of 73 and 69 over the weekend dropped him down to 17th on a six-under 274 total. Li had another solid round going into the final day, but finished with a double bogey on 18.

"Saturday was very stressful ever since I woke up... since I've never been there before," said Li. "I just felt super tired, not because of practice, but today I felt like everything was released.

"I played really well until 16, missed a short birdie putt, and 18, I just want to go aggressive, try to make a birdie, and went a little bit left (into a penalty area). Yeah, it's great experience."

Woods rebounded from a frustrating third round to shoot a 67 and finish one under for the tournament. - AFP, REUTERS

Golf