COLLIN THE SHOTS
Stunning drive, eagle putt on 16th make Morikawa major champion
SAN FRANCISCO — The shot will be remembered as one of the best under pressure that hardly anyone witnessed. It made Collin Morikawa a major champion Sunday in a thrill-a-minute PGA Championship that not many will forget.
Morikawa hit driver on the 294-yard 16th hole that was perfect in flight and even better when it landed, hopping onto the green and rolling to seven feet for an eagle putt that all but clinched victory on a most quiet Sunday at Harding Park.
In the first major without spectators, the 23-year-old Morikawa finished with a bang.
‘‘I was hoping for a really good bounce and got it,’’ he said afterward. ‘‘I hit a really good putt, and now we’re here.’’
He closed with a 6-under-par 64 — the lowest final-round score by a PGA champion in 25 years — to earn a two-shot victory over Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson, two of 10 players who had a chance on the back nine.
At one point in the round, Morikawa was among seven players tied for the lead. He took the lead when he chipped in for birdie from 40 feet short of the 14th green, then delivered the knockout with his gutsy drive and eagle putt.
The COVID-19 pandemic that moved the PGA from May to August was allowed to be played only if spectators weren’t allowed. But there was one person who won’t forget what he saw.
Casey, with his first good shot at winning a major, birdied the 16th to tie Morikawa for the lead. Standing on the tee at the par-3 17th, he looked back and saw Morikawa’s ball roll toward the cup.
‘‘What a shot,’’ said Casey, whose 4-under 66 might have been plenty good enough on another day. ‘‘Noth
ing you can do but tip your cap to that. Collin had taken on that challenge and pulled it off. That’s what champions do.’’
Morikawa, who completed 72 holes at 13-under 267, was still in the vicinity of Harding Park just more than a year ago. He was finishing up his degree and his All-American career at the University of California at Berkeley, part of a new cast of young stars in a sport filled with them.
He only played Harding Park about a dozen times while in college, but never was it set up with rough like this or with the tees all the way back.
Now Morikawa — whose only mistake all day came when he dropped the lid of the Wanamaker Trophy — has three PGA Tour victories and is No. 5 in the world, taking his place among the young stars by beating a cast of worldclass players.
For Johnson, it was another major that got away. He had a one-shot lead at the start of the round and didn’t do too much wrong, except for not keeping the ball in the fairway to give himself better chances at birdies.
He drove into the hazard on the 16th and chipped in for birdie when it was too late, and a birdie on the 18th gave him a 2-under 68 and a tie for second.
It was his fifth second-place finish in a major — his only title is the 2016 U.S. Open — and second consecutive runner-up in the PGA.
Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka proved to be all talk this time. He looked at the crowded leaderboard late Saturday and didn’t see anyone with his experience of four major championships, even dishing on Johnson because he has ‘‘only won one.’’
But Koepka didn’t make a birdie until the 12th hole of the final round. He went from two shots behind at the start of the day to a 4-over 74 to finish tied for 29th.
‘‘It’s my first bad round in a major in a while,’’ Koepka said.
Tiger Woods, meanwhile, turned in his best round of the tournament. He closed with a 3-under 67 to finish at 1 under.
‘‘Today was more indicative of how I could have played on Friday and Saturday if I would have made a few putts early,’’ he said.
Collin Morikawa, 23, sends his eagle putt into the hole on the 16th green Sunday at the PGA Championship. He shot a 6-under 64 in the final round to win his first major.
Third-round leader Dustin Johnson shot a 2-under 68 to finish second in a major for the fifth time in his career.