Morikawa recaptures mojo at Zozo Championship, ending title drought

It gave the 26-year-old his sixth win on the US PGA Tour and his first title since the 2021 DP World Tour Championship in Dubai

By AFP

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Collin Morikawa of the United States reacts after winning the PGA Tour Zozo Championship. — AP
Collin Morikawa of the United States reacts after winning the PGA Tour Zozo Championship. — AP

Published: Sun 22 Oct 2023, 3:56 PM

Last updated: Sun 22 Oct 2023, 3:57 PM

Collin Morikawa said he had refound "the golf I miss playing" after ending a two-year title drought with a resounding victory at the US PGA Tour's Zozo Championship in Japan on Sunday.

The twice major champion finished six strokes clear at Narashino Country Club after rattling off seven birdies to card a bogey-free 63 and finish on 14-under overall.


It gave the 26-year-old his sixth win on the US PGA Tour and his first title since the 2021 DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Morikawa said it "meant the world" to lift the trophy.


"Having this two-year drought, just struggling at times, not really contending, to do what I did through this entire week -- that's the golf I miss playing," said Morikawa, whose last US PGA Tour win was at the 2021 British Open.

"To see that again, it's very exciting to close out this year and to head into next year."

Morikawa was playing his first tournament since being part of the American team that failed to retain the Ryder Cup in Rome.

He led after the first round of the 78-man, no-cut event on the outskirts of Tokyo but faded before roaring back into contention in the third round with five birdies on the last six holes.

He picked up where he left off on the final day, hitting four birdies on the front nine to surge into the lead.

He closed out the win with one last birdie to set a new record for the tournament's largest margin of victory.

Morikawa said he had no doubts that his title drought would end and it was "more about when it was going to happen".

"The thoughts in your head start piling up like, what did I do differently, what do I need to change?" he said.

"I just needed to take two steps back and really understand the foundation of what made me so solid of a player."

Eric Cole and Beau Hossler finished in a tie for second on 8-under.

Justin Suh went into the final day with a one-stroke lead but faded badly, carding a final-round 74 to finish on 5-under.

Morikawa, who has Japanese heritage, enjoyed the support of the home fans and said he was "able to connect with the people out here".

"When you're able to touch on that aspect a little more, sometimes it pulls a little bit more out of you," he said.

"When you're able to represent the United States at the Ryder Cup or the Olympics, it just drives you that much more."

Xander Schauffele, who was also playing his first competition since the Ryder Cup, finished on 2-over.

The Tokyo Olympics champion was only three strokes off the lead after two rounds but plummeted down the leaderboard the following day and carded a final-round 71.

Defending champion Keegan Bradley finished on 1-under, while 2021 winner Hideki Matsuyama was 5-over.

The $8.5 million Zozo Championship was established in 2019 as the first US PGA Tour tournament in Japan.

Thousands of Japanese fans turned up to watch Tiger Woods win the inaugural title for his 82nd US PGA Tour victory -- equalling Sam Snead's 54-year-old record.


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