Kapalua, Hawaii Collin Morikawa, who didn’t win for the first time in his young career last year, plays like he wants to get it over with.
Morikawa turned on his irons early and took advantage of some goal holes late in his second round on Friday for 7-66 to give him a two-shot lead in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
He was 16-to-130 and without a bogey for two rounds at the plantation field in Kapalua.
“In conditions where the wind is blowing and pins are a sport where you have to control distance and trajectory very precisely, this is tailor-made for him,” said JJ Spawn, who played Morikawa and posted from 68 to two behind.
Masters champion Scotty Scheffler laughed off Game 1 with US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick and then ran nine birdies in his round of 66, leaving him two shots behind along with Kapalua’s rookie Spawn.
Scheffler could return to world number one this week with a two-way tie for third place at best, with Rory McIlroy opting to sit out this week.
Jordan Spit had two eagles—one with a 7th iron that came within inches of an albatross on the fifth par-5 hole—and a 66th. He was three shots behind.
Morikawa would not normally be in Kapalua at the beginning of the year just for the winners. But this new year, as we try to bring the best games together more often, the PGA Tour has expanded the field from all-winners in 2022 to those who made it to the East Lake FedEx Cup Finals.
Morikawa shared an 18-hole lead, bowling out six straight birdies and running nine defenders. On a great Friday afternoon in Maui, when the wind picked up a bit, it did most of the damage early. It began with a 20-foot birdie hitting an open hole, followed by short irons up to 3 and 8 feet.
From there, everyone else did well to keep up.
Scheffler was featured on the first jersey, featuring all four of his last year’s victories, from the WM Phoenix Open to the Masters. Fitzpatrick was next, who beat Scheffler by one shot in Brooklyn. He was introduced as the US Open champion.
“There’s one you didn’t win,” Fitzpatrick said as they laughed.
The score remained low enough that only two players were over par – Billy Horschel (71) and Chad Ramey (76) were 2 over.
Morikawa had a chance to break the 36-hole scoring record that Cameron Smith set last year with 17-129. his long, bird-like blow hit my lip.
These are mistakes that happen and he can live with it. He’s more interested in the bigger picture of moving forward after what seemed like the first real golf challenge in a long time he can’t remember.
Morikawa graduated from the University of California and won the PGA Tour in two months. After his first two full years on tour, he already had two majors. A year ago, he had a chance to become No. 1 in the world.
He only had one top 10 in his last eight tournaments last year. Morikawa attributed this, more than anything bad with his swing or punch, to a bad attitude caused by the frustration of not playing with his abilities.
“It was tough, but this is golf and I learned a lot from it,” Morikawa said. “You just understand, look, it will happen. You just dig yourself out of it, learn and get better from it. And if I don’t get better from it and force myself to work a little harder and myself in a certain way so that I know where I want to be and set my goals, then there’s no reason to be disappointed.
“But it was frustrating because I know where I want to be.”
He currently leads by two shots, his first time by 36 holes since the US Open last summer. He ended up in fifth place in Brooklyn.
Missing from Kapalua is Xander Schauffele, the world’s No. 6 player who retired after eight holes due to a bad back. Schauffele said he was heading home to Las Vegas to find out what was going on.
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