Collin Morikawa (66-67-64 – 197, -16) broke Cal’s 54-hole record and continued his torrid play of late Tuesday to win individual medalist honors at the prestigious Querencia Cabo Collegiate featuring many of the top teams and players in collegiate golf. The victory was the third of his collegiate career and second in a row after he was one of four players to share individual medalist honors in his previous outing at the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate.
“It feels awesome,” Morikawa said after the victory. “This is one of the strongest tournaments of the year and to play well all week made this trip very special. I’ll definitely enjoy this win, but I’ll be even more ready for the next few tournaments and the postseason.”
“I’m really proud of Collin, but I’m just flabbergasted by his performance,” Alex and Marie Shipman Director of Men’s Golf Walter Chun said. “Shooting 16-under is flat out incredible. He deserves every bit of his special moment.”
Cal (281-278-287 – 846, -6) started Tuesday’s action in second place only one shot behind the nation’s top-ranked team Oklahoma State (276-282-280 – 838, -14). The Golden Bears battled the Sooners at the top of the team leaderboard early in the third and final round before eventually finishing eight strokes behind the winners. Oklahoma State and Cal were the only two teams in a prestigious field that featured 10 of the nation’s top 25 club to navigate the 54-hole event at the par-71, 6898-yard Querencia Golf Club with an under-par score.
“We had a great event in one of the best fields in all of college golf,” Chun said. “We came up short, but that’s just how it ended up. It is nothing to hold our heads down about. We got beat today, but at this tournament we showed not only No. 1 Oklahoma State but the entire country that we are a team to be reckoned with.”
“We did struggle here and there as a team, but we also showed a lot of potential,” Morikawa said. “Overall, we played very well against some of the top teams in the country, and it’ll be a great learning experience for us heading into the end of the spring. There’s still a lot for myself and the team to work on and really dial things in for the next few tournaments, but we’re trending in the right direction.”
In addition to his school-record 54-hole score, Morikawa’s seven-under par Tuesday equaled his top single round ever at Cal that he had shot on two previous occasions.
Morikawa held a one-stroke lead over eventual second-place finisher Matthew Wolff of Oklahoma State (65-68-67 – 200, -13) before he took control by making birdie on the par-five ninth while Wolff bogeyed the hole. The two-shot swing came just after Wolff had birdied eight while Morikawa made his only bogey of the round to cut Morikawa’s three-shot advantage to one. But Morikawa would hold the three-stroke advantage he regained with the two-shot turnaround on the ninth hole by matching Wolff’s four birdies on the back nine. Both players birdied the par-four 10th, par-three 14th and par-five 15th holes, while Morikawa’s other birdie came on the par-three 11th and Wolf’s on the par-four 12th.
Morikawa started his final round Tuesday tied for the lead with Wolff but quickly moved three shots in front of his nearest competitor after Wolff bogeyed the par-three second and Morikawa eagled the par-five fourth. Both players birdied the par-four fifth before Wolff got two shots back on eight.
“It definitely wasn’t easy, especially with Matt Wolff playing solid all day,” Morikawa said. “But, I played to my strengths, minimized the bogeys and waited for the birdies to come.”
Morikawa has played his last seven rounds in an astounding 35-under par with 37 birdies and an eagle against two bogeys and one double bogey during the stretch.
Two years ago as a freshman at the 2016 Querencia Cabo Collegiate Morikawa tied for second but a three-putt bogey on his final hole of regulation cost him a spot in a playoff by a single stroke.
“I knew this course fits my game after finishing tied for second two years ago,” Morikawa said. “I got some redemption this year.”
Jamie Cheatham (72-68-74 – 214, +1) was the next Cal player on the leaderboard in a tie for 12th followed by Sebastian Crampton (69-74-75 – 218, +5) in a tie for 33rd, KK Limbhasut (74-71-74 – 219, +6) in a tie for 36th and Kaiwen Liu (74-72-76 – 222, +9) in a tie for 45th.
Cal will be out of action for over three weeks until resuming its season March 29-31 at The Goodwin hosted by Stanford at TPC Harding Park.
Morikawa will play his second PGA TOUR event as an amateur March 15-18 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard during Cal’s break in action. The event will be played at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lounge in Orlando. Morikawa earned Team USA’s exemption to the event with his performance that helped lead Team USA to victory at the 2017 Arnold Palmer Cup last June. His previous PGA TOUR event was at the 2016 Safeway Open played at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa Valley.
Photo courtesy of @DinoGomezPhotography