Had it not been for a historic week for Joaquin Niemann, Collin Morikawa could have perhaps been a Genesis Invitational champion in his home city.
The Los Angeles native made a hard Sunday charge with a final-round 65 that made what look like a foregone conclusion for Niemann turn into a bit of a sweat. Niemann opened the tournament with a pair of 8-under 63s to break the tournament 36-hole record by four. He won’t be a factor this year as the LIV defector is ineligible to defend his title.
Morikawa opened the tournament with 67-67-68 and finish two shots back in the end in T-2nd.
It was his best result in three tries at Riviera. He took T-26th (73-67-68-73) in 2020 and T-43rd (73-69-70-73) in 2021.
“Yeah, this would be really special,” Morikawa responded in 2021 to a question about what it would mean to get it done at his home event, as transcribed by Tee Scripts.
"“Just to hear the fans out there, I have a lot of friends just popping up out of nowhere like I said yesterday. It’s great to see them, it’s great to see old faces. It’s just that energy of being back in L.A., being back home and it would be really special.”"
Morikawa is among the first names that come to mind in terms of those trending toward a win in 2023. He had it in his grasp at the Sentry Tournament of Champions before settling for second place.
Morikawa got back on the horse a few weeks later, taking third at the Farmers Insurance Open.
He’s second on the PGA Tour this season in driving accuracy (74.35%). That’s key to gaining distance on fairway finders and avoiding the unpredictable kikuyu rough.
Mix that in with his always stellar iron play, which has him sixth in strokes gained approach per round (1.091), and he’s going to be a popular pick to win this week.