Morikawa back to his best after eureka moments at the Masters - Hindustan Times
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Morikawa back to his best after eureka moments at the Masters

ByJoy Chakravarty
Apr 14, 2024 10:49 PM IST

The two-time major winner swapped a putter and found a swing, turning into hot contender at the year’s first major

Collin Morikawa seems to have rediscovered his golfing mojo and has started throwing darts again.

Colin Morikawa of the United States plays during the pro-am ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard at Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Golf Course (Getty Images via AFP)
Colin Morikawa of the United States plays during the pro-am ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard at Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Golf Course (Getty Images via AFP)

Often considered the most lethal iron player in the sport at the moment – his dispersion pattern with blades is concentrated closer to the target compared to most – the two-time major champion has been struggling the past couple of years.

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He came into his own at the 88th Masters after experiencing a moment most golfers yearn for – something clicked in his swing while at the driving range on Monday. He then cotton-wooled it to a demanding Augusta National Golf Club and got into contention going into Sunday.

It was not just his feelings with his irons that changed, but Morikawa also took a brave decision with his putter that paid off. Players are averse to making equipment changes during a tournament, but he went a step further and switched in the middle of the week. After the first round (71) with a Spider Tour X mallet, the world No.20 went back to his old Olson prototype blade.

It has proved a deadly combination. Winner of the 2020 PGA Championship and the 2021 Open, Morikawa shot the second best round of 69 on another tough day Saturday and was one behind leader Scottie Scheffler at 6-under par.

A win would take him one step closer to a career grand slam as the US Open trophy would be the only missing hardware in his cabinet.

In November 2021, Morikawa won the DP World Tour Championship and stormed to No.2 in the world. He was leading the Hero World Challenge by plenty (a win would have elevated him to world No.1) when he had a blowout Sunday and lost to his close friend Viktor Hovland.

The half-Japanese Las Vegas native’s form spiralled out of control, and his sixth PGA Tour win came nearly two years later at the Zozo Championship in Japan last year. That proved a brief spark as he did not look as sharp this year.

All that changed when Morikawa was hitting balls at the range in Augusta on Monday. After hitting one of the hundred shots, he turned to his caddie, Jonathan Jakovac, and gave him a high-five. That was the eureka moment. He felt he found something and carried it into the tournament.

“It’s been a struggle the past few years. And it hasn’t been fun, but it’s been fun to learn about the game and learn about myself,” said Morikawa.

“The past few days, I’ve seen some shots that I haven’t in quite some time, and that’s really exciting for me because it’s just being able to point and shoot and hopefully get a birdie chance.

“I had to search. You have to find something. Where my game was last week, if I took it out this week, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here today. So, you have to find something.

“Sometimes, you are not searching but just trying to find a feel. That’s all it is. Once you find a feel, you can just put it on repeat throughout the week.

“It’s a work in progress. In golf, there are so many ups and downs. You don't quite know where you’re at every single day, and you just do the best you can to wake up and enjoy where you’re at.”

As for the rather drastic decision to change putters, Morikawa added: “I came into this week not putting well or feeling comfortable with the putter I had in my hands.

“Went full 180, switched to the mallet and was feeling great, to be honest. Felt better than I’ve felt all year. But sometimes, you don’t know how it’s going to feel in the tournament. Through that Thursday and then Friday morning round, I just wanted to get the putter out of my hands because I couldn’t get comfortable with it.

“And thankfully, I had a backup, a copy of what I’ve putted with in the year-and-a- half. Felt like old times and nice to have that in the bag again.

“That’s the biggest thing… feeling comfortable going into a Sunday round.”

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