The fans weren’t clapping for Collin Morikawa in Round 1 of the Tour Championship, despite the two-time major winner lighting up East Lake with one of the lowest rounds ever recorded at the PGA Tour’s season finale.
Morikawa blitzed his way into a share of the lead with Keegan Bradley (63) at 10 under courtesy of a nine-under 61.
The two-time major champion started nine shots behind Scottie Scheffler. But that didn’t last long with a front nine that included four approach shots that settled within 10 feet, and two of those on the back side. At East Lake’s par-5 sixth, Morikawa, who had made two early birdies, stuffed his second shot from 184 yards to four feet for a tap-in eagle.
It was the lowest round of his Morikawa’s career and the best opening round at the Tour Championship. It was also the second-lowest score at East Lake after Zach Johnson’s 60 in round three of the 2007 edition.
One eagle, seven birdies. And still, very little applause.
“The fans for some reason didn’t really want to clap for our group today,” Morikawa said. “They didn’t think 10 feet or five feet was that good. We really didn’t know how close it was.”
Morikawa, however, wasn’t fazed.
There’s one person he cares about impressing this week, and he’s not even on the property. The 26-year-old just hopes US Ryder Cup captain Johnson was watching. The 2021 team member is desperate for a second appearance but sits 10th on the US standings. He hasn’t won since the 2021 Open Championship.
“I want to win this tournament, I really do,” he said. “It’s been too long. Today definitely helped that.”
It also helped his chances of securing one of Johnson’s six captain’s picks when they are announced Tuesday.
“I had two years to get myself in that top six and didn’t do it,” Morikawa said. “I was still grinding out there. [I] still ended up roughly in that zone of hopefully a captain’s pick. But, look, I think, hopefully, my record speaks for itself,” he said, referencing 3.5 points from four matches at Whistling Straits in 2021.
“Hopefully the golf speaks for itself today.”
It did, even if the gallery didn’t think so.