[PHOTOS: Getty Images]

Collin Morikawa reaps rewards from time spent on putting green

Maybe it was Collin Morikawa’s two-and-a-half-hour session on the practice green on the eve of the Zozo Championship. Or perhaps it was that switch to a Mitsubishi prototype shaft in his putter that he put into play at the Ryder Cup and liked so much he used it three weeks later at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club.

While Morikawa kept mum on his putting changes – he replied “no, no, nope” when quizzed what he found during practice – the results were certainly in evidence as he came from two strokes off the pace on Sunday to win by six, shooting a final-round 63 for the lowest final round and the tournament’s largest margin of victory. The win was his sixth on the PGA Tour and first since the 2021 Open Championship.

Morikawa’s putter was red-hot all week. He made 24 birdies, which led the field. Twelve of them came in his last 24 holes, which he played bogey-free on the way to victory.

It was a dramatic turnaround for a player who came into the week ranked a distant 110th in Strokes Gained: Putting. It also helped offset an inconsistent ball-striking performance – Morikawa only hit 19 of 52 fairways (including just five of 13 in the final round, although he did manage to find all but three greens in regulation that day.) 

The victory was a special one for Morikawa, whose father is of Japanese descent. He says the Zozo Championship is always highlighted on his schedule, and he spent four days before the tournament with his wife, Kat, in Tokyo sight-seeing and “truly eating”.

“Being half-Japanese and looking back at that and just being able to connect with the people out here, it means the world,” Morikawa said. “When you’re able to just kind of touch on that little aspect a little bit more, sometimes it pulls a little bit more out of you.   

“I knew at the beginning of the week that the fans out here are obviously [cheering] for the Japanese players, but I like to count myself as a part Japanese player in that, so I felt the love. The fans have been incredible, and I look forward to coming back.”

Tom Kim repeats at the Shriners Children’s Open

Tom Kim is just older than 21 years – not that much older than the kids being treated at the hospitals supported by proceeds of the Shriners Children’s Open. And he’s now a two-time winner of that event after successfully defending his title in Las Vegas.  

Kim has found quite the comfort zone at TPC Summerlin. In eight rounds, he’s gained 11.72 strokes on the field in Total Putting – the best at any event in his young career. In addition, he made 28 birdies or better in his title defence, tied for the most at the Shriners Children’s Open since par was changed to 71 in 2009. He was particularly efficient on the par 4s, making 19 birdies for a 43.2 conversion percentage, which is the highest birdie or better percentage on par 4s on the PGA Tour this year.

Kim is the fourth youngest player to win three times – trailing only Gene Sarazen and Horton Smith, both of whom had turned 20, and the incomparable Tiger Woods, who was 13 days past his 21st birthday when he pulled off the feat. 

“It’s very sweet. I feel like the first two wins came at me really quick. It took a lot longer than my first two wins to get my third one. But it’s very sweet,” Kim said. 

Luke List wins Sanderson Farms Championship

Luke List saved his longest putt of the week for the biggest moment – rolling in a 40-footer for birdie on the first hole of sudden death to win a five-way playoff at the Sanderson Farms Championship.  

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. The stats show the flatstick was key to List’s second career victory, which came after the 38-year-old made up a five-stroke deficit in the final round and waited more than an hour for the leaders to finish.

List was particularly solid on the back nine where he finished +5.16 in Strokes Gained: Putting as compared to 0.84 on the front. He made five putts longer than 10 feet on the inward nine – including birdies of 28 and 32 feet during the second round – and one-putted 20 times. List did not make a bogey on the back nine in the final three rounds, either.

The Vanderbilt University graduate had picked up his first win in a playoff, as well. After nine years on the PGA Tour, List now has wins in each of his past two seasons, 46 starts apart. Interestingly, he did not have a top-10 finish in any of the events between his two victories, the longest stretch on tour since 1983.

Among the players he defeated was red-hot PGA Tour University graduate Ludvig Aberg of Sweden, who was playing a week after making his first Ryder Cup appearance.

Fans can watch this week’s World Wide Technology Championship on the PGA Tour on Kayo.