Collin Morikawa’s birdie barrage soars him atop PGA Championship leaderboard


Collin Morikawa paraded around the front side at Valhalla on Friday, looking destined to win another major title and his second PGA Championship.

He made five straight birdies from holes four through eight, which vaulted him to the leaderboard when he walked off the golf course. Morikawa shot a 6-under 65 and will enter the weekend at 11-under par—the best score he has posted through 36 holes at a major.

“Just kept it in front of myself,” Morikawa explained.

“I’ve been putting great so far since Augusta, so it’s nice to keep that trend going. I was able to hit a few good close shots, a few wedge shots, take advantage of the short holes and the par-5s, and for the most part, didn’t make any big errors, other than the last hole, just that approach shot.”

Having started on the back nine, it took Morikawa a few holes to warm up. But birdies on 13 and 18 got things going for the two-time major winner.

He then made the turn to the front nine, where he made his move. But Morikawa made one mistake on the 9th with his second shot, a poor wedge that came up well short of the green. That led to a bogey to close out his round.

“The little five-run birdie was me playing solid golf, and sometimes when putts drop, that’s what happens,” he said.

Collin Morikawa, PGA Championship

Collin Morikawa waves after making birdie on the 7th hole.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

“That’s the golf I’m going to ask from myself over the next two days—stay present, hit your shots, execute them, and if the putts drop, the putts drop. Not force anything. I wasn’t forcing anything out there, especially throughout today.”

Morikawa leads the field in total strokes gained, picking up 12 strokes over two rounds of play. He is also second in strokes gained around the green with 3.298.

From tee to green, Morikawa played like he did when he won the 2020 PGA Championship and the 2021 Open Championship.

He lost his mojo somewhat earlier this season, however. His strong iron play inexplicably abandoned him. But he discovered something on the range during a Monday practice round at Augusta National, and he has been a different player since.

“I know I still have it in me, and that’s what’s exciting,” Morikawa said.

“After Augusta, it sucked to finish like that and lose to Scottie, but at the end of the day, I knew I had three more majors coming up and to prep for that and get things as sharp as possible and come out strong. It’s nice to get off to this start.”

Morikawa will have to wait out the afternoon wave to see who his playing partner will be for Saturday’s round.

Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, be sure to follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social platforms. You can also follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports.





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