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Morikawa, 23, takes PGA Championship

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Collin Morikawa, playing in only his second major, was perfect down the stretch in San Francisco. AFP

Morikawa, 23, takes PGA Championship

Collin Morikawa claimed his first major championship on Sunday, delivering a magical eagle on the 16th hole in a bogey-free round of 64 at the 2020 PGA Championship.

The 23-year-old, who turned pro just 14 months ago, did the unthinkable by winning in just his second career major appearance.

Morikawa, who is ranked 12th in the world, eventually finished at 13-under 267 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

“It’s amazing. It’s been a life goal, obviously as a little kid, kind of watching everyone grow up, all these professionals, and this is always what I’ve wanted to do,” Morikawa said. “I felt very comfortable from the start.

“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,” added Morikawa, who grew up in Los Angeles but went to college at UC Berkeley across the bay from San Francisco.

“It was going to take a very, very good round today, and I knew with the leaderboard the way it was looking and everyone out there, you just had to play well.”

Third round leader Dustin Johnson had to settle for a tie for second with England’s Paul Casey. Johnson shot a 68 and Casey closed with a 66 to reach 11-under 269.

Jason Day, Matthew Wolff, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau and Scottie Scheffler all finished in a tie for fourth, three shots adrift of Morikawa.

Heading into the final round there were 10 players within three shots of the lead. The packed leaderboard continued throughout Sunday’s round as it looked like any of a half a dozen players could emerge victorious.

When Johnson made the turn after his ninth hole he was tied with three others for the lead at 10-under. They were soon joined by others making it a six-way tie for the lead on the back nine.

Sweet 16th

Morikawa put it all together in the fourth round, keeping pace with the leaders throughout then emerging from the pack late in the round.

Morikawa had four birdies, including two in his first four holes as he got off to a hot start. But it was his eagle at 16 that separated him from the tight pack at the top of the leaderboard.

On hole 16, he hit a 293-yard tee shot onto the green, landing it just seven feet from the flagstick. Morikawa made the putt to move to 13-under.

Johnson birdied his final hole, while Casey, who was trying to become the first Englishman to win the PGA in 100 years, made par there.

“I played phenomenal golf and there’s nothing I would change,” said Casey. “I’m very, very happy with how I played. Great attitude. Stayed very calm and stayed in the present.

“The glorious shots Collin hit, like on 16 to make eagle, you have to tip your cap. When he popped up on tour not that long ago, those guys who were paying attention like myself knew that this was something special, and he’s proved it today.”

Brooks Koepka failed in his bid for a historic three-peat. The two-time defending PGA champion got off to a woeful start with four bogeys on the front nine en route to a four-over 74.

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

Woods struggled on the greens early in the tournament but found his putting groove Sunday, needing just 21 putts in the fourth round.

China No1 Li Haotong shot a 69 for a six-under 274 total. Li had another solid round going on Sunday but finished with a double bogey on 18.

Former world No1 Rory McIlroy shot a closing 68 to reach two-under 278, 11 shots back of Morikawa.

It is the first major since the season was placed on hold due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Because of the coronavirus restrictions the tournament took place with no fans, which was a first.

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