BROOKLINE, Mass. — Collin Morikawa is a nice guy. Polite guy. Thoughtful, observant, humble. It is therefore painful for us to say the following: Man is not trustworthy.
This is not a slander taken lightly and one that any player will support, as earlier in the week Morikawa told anyone who would listen that his game was in an awkward spot. His go-to cut wasn’t sharp and he had no appetite for the draw. He understood what was happening – the face was closed at impact – but for the life of him he was unable to correct it.
“Two weeks ago, probably pretty bad,” Morikawa said when assessing his game on Tuesday. “This whole year has been weird. I’ve been known for my irons and known for hitting cuts. That shot just wasn’t there.
It turns out that so-called confession was a deception, because it’s Friday night and Morikawa, he of little faith, is tied for the lead at the US Open.
“I think it was a continuation of yesterday,” Morikawa said, posting a second-round 66 to complete his first-day 69, atop the chart with Joel Dahmen at five under. “I just didn’t let off steam on the back nine. He stalled a bit throughout the back nine. I had a lucky break and an 8 shot, and unfortunately missed the putt, but that allowed the round to continue.
Maybe we should have known better. After all, Morikawa said last July that ties golf threw him for a loop at the Scottish Open, only to win the Open Championship the following week. He’s either a quick learner or a cunning little rascal.
In Morikawa’s defense, at least here at Brookline, he wasn’t lying: the cut remains missing, and Morikawa’s outrage that it didn’t return is real. But it turns out that the draw can also be deadly. Going into the week ranked fifth in SG/approach, Morikawa gained more than two and a half shots from the field in that category on Friday afternoon. After his turn, Morikawa said the draw not only grew on him, but he could finally unleash his potential.
“I think it proves that you can play this game with a lot of shots,” Morikawa said. “I remember the first time I played Tiger, and he hit every shot that required it. Pin is right; you hit a little cut. Pin is left; you hit a little I think it’s just going to hopefully just get my iron going and make my game a little more balanced rather than just hitting a cut. But this week we’re just going to work with what we have, and in that moment, it’s a small draw.
His day was not without blemish. No US Open card is. He bogeyed the fourth and parried the fifth, and while par is usually your friend at the national championship, the fifth is a passable par-4 that played the second-easiest hole on Friday. He hit his second shot on the par-5 eighth from 208 yards from four feet, but couldn’t convert the eagle, looking at his putter as if giving him away.
Of course, we nitpick the player who has bettered 154 others and is tied with another over 36 holes, and that putter – the one who has often been Morikawa’s enemy – has been his friend in Boston, winning more than three blows against his competitors on the dance floor. Every time he’s been average on the greens in his fledgling career, he’s been tough. When the flatstick was a weapon… good night, doctor.
Yes, it’s only 36 holes, and yes, this ranking has the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler, a dashing Aaron Wise and better than he’ll lead you to believe Dahmen, and a whole host of others great guys more than worthy to take this crown. Conversely, Morikawa is used to giving his best in the best events. He owns the Wanamaker Trophy and burgundy pitcher, but also a T-8 at the 2021 PGA, a T-4 at the 2021 US Open and a fifth-place finish at this year’s Masters. If he won this week, it would be his third major championship in just his 11th major appearance, and if that sounds ridiculous, you’re right: no Masters-era player has won three majors in fewer starts.
Morikawa didn’t want to discuss what could be, instead focusing on what he needs to do to get to this point. “Yeah, it’s a major championship. It’s the US Open. Nobody has pushed it all the way so far and kind of got away with it, but you know what, right now my game feels really good,” Morikawa said. “The last few days are a huge confidence booster for me heading into this weekend, and hopefully we can sort of make a separation somehow.”
Trust. It is a prerequisite for the national open. For two days, Morikawa appears to be a confident man. Expect. Man of confidence … crook. The figures. Like we said, Collin Morikawa is not to be trusted.