Will Morikawa’s New Putting Stroke Bring Him Back to the Top?

Collin Morikawa, 149th Open Championship,(Photo by Tom Jenkins/Getty Images)
Collin Morikawa, 149th Open Championship,(Photo by Tom Jenkins/Getty Images) /

As Collin Morikawa stood with the claret jug in his hand on the 18th hole of Royal St. George’s in 2021, it was hard not to immediately try to quantify his potential.

He had become the first player in almost 100 years to win two majors in his first eight starts or fewer, and the first to win two in his debut appearance.

But, that success didn’t translate much in 2022. His best result was a T-2 at the Genesis Invitational in February, and he was a preeminent non-factor in most of the majors.

Collin Morikawa’s Achilles heel has been his putting.

In 2022, he ranked an astonishing 131st in strokes gained putting, considerably below every other golfer in his universe.

What was so frustrating about this was, as Luke Kerr-Dineen from Golf Digest suggested, when Morikawa’s flatstick runs hot, there’s no prize he can’t win.

Insert Stephen Sweeney, who works with other tour pros such as Shane Lowry and Aaron Wise, who was now tasked with fixing the missing link on an already ultra-successful youngster (and, as Kerr-Dineen noted, giving Morikawa the first putting lesson of his life!).

The issue with Morikawa’s stroke, as reported by Kerr-Dineen, was:

"“Morikawa’s pattern is that of a fade. His club moves ever-so-slightly from out-to-in, and the clubface being slightly open helps his ball start left and drift gently to the right. There was only one problem: That same pattern, which he uses to devastating effect from tee-to-green, started showing up in his putting stroke. Morikawa would set up with his shoulders putting left and his lead arm below his trail arm. He’d then cut across the ball ever-so-slightly.”"

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Basically, the patented fade that defines Morikawa’s otherworldly iron play had been the reason his putts were consistently off line.

What does this mean? Well, just ask Barstool Sports’ Dan Rapaport.