Morikawa back from missed cut with strong de­but at Muir­field

The Maui News - - Sports - By DOUG FER­GU­SON The As­so­ci­ated Press

DUBLIN, Ohio — Collin Morikawa didn’t get rat­tled by his first missed cut as a pro or his first time play­ing Muir­field Vil­lage.

Morikawa fi­nally had a forced week­end off two weeks ago af­ter 22 con­sec­u­tive cuts to start his PGA Tour ca­reer, three short of the stan­dard set by Tiger Woods. He bounced back Thurs­day in the Work­day Char­ity Open with a 7-un­der 65 for a one-shot lead over Adam Had­win.

It was a quiet day of work, typ­i­cal for the PGA Tour with no spec­ta­tors al­lowed in the re­turn from the COVID-19 pan­demic shut­down. It was never more ev­i­dent at Muir­field Vil­lage, which typ­i­cally has enough fans to frame just about ev­ery hole.

Morikawa goes about his work qui­etly in any cir­cum­stances, and he was di­aled in from the start of a rel­a­tively calm and steamy after­noon on the course Jack Nick­laus built. His shot into the par-5 fifth set­tled 3 feet away for ea­gle. All but one of his birdie putts was in­side 12 feet. The only set­back was a bo­gey from the fair­way on the 18th.

“It’s a beau­ti­ful track. It’s a very tough course, ob­vi­ously, but you just have to map your way around it,” Morikawa said. “You’ve got to be re­ally smart. If you’re not in the fair­way, you’ve got to make sure you play smart. I was play­ing smart but I felt good with my irons, so I was able to at­tack some pins when they were ac­ces­si­ble.”

Most of the good scor­ing came in the morn­ing. Had­win had five birdies over his last eight holes for a 66. Nick Tay­lor, a new fa­ther who chose to stay home in Canada for an ex­tra month af­ter the tour re­sumed, had an ea­gle at No. 11 and kept bo­geys off his card for a 67. He was joined by past Muir­field Vil­lage win­ner Hideki Mat­suyama.

Kee­gan Bradley had a 69 and was among 35 play­ers who shot in the 60s. One shot summed up the en­vi­ron­ment at PGA Tour events at the mo­ment. He hit a 6-iron on the par-3 fourth hole for an ace, and didn’t even know it.

“There was prob­a­bly five or six peo­ple up by the green, and no one did any­thing,” Bradley said. “We walked up to the green, I fixed my ball mark. I’m look­ing all over the green for it. And some­one just goes, ‘It’s in the hole,’ like re­ally ca­su­ally. It was just bizarre.”

Brooks Koepka played for the first time since with­draw­ing from the Trav­el­ers Cham­pi­onship two weeks ago af­ter his cad­die tested pos­i­tive for the coro­n­avirus. He used PGA Tour win­ner Marc Tur­nesa as a cad­die for this week, which might be a short week. Koepka opened with a 74.

AP photo

Collin Morikawa hits from a bunker on the 18th hole dur­ing the first round of the Work­day Char­ity Open on Thurs­day.

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