124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

PGA Championship 2024

PGA Championship 2024: Collin Morikawa back in comfort zone—contending in a major


Collin Morikawa talks to caddie J.J. Jakovac at the fifth hole during the second round of the 2024 PGA Championship.

Icon Sportswire

Unburdened by the chaos swirling around the grounds of Valhalla Golf Club Friday morning and riding a wave of confidence left over from an encouraging performance in the Masters, Collin Morikawa is right back in the mix in another major championship. Already a two-time major winner, Morikawa strung together five straight birdies in shooting six-under-par 65 and seizing the morning-wave clubhouse lead in the 106th PGA Championship.

Winner of the 2020 PGA and 2021 Open Championship, Morikawa completed 36 holes in rainy Louisville in 11-under 131. Only a bogey at the last, after an uncharacteristic chunked 8-iron approach, dampened his mood, and only slightly as he went around Valhalla with little stress and a lot of belief, the kind that fueled his run of success early in his career.

“For me, the confidence doesn't go away. I think the confidence is always there,” said Morikawa, who ended a two-year winless drought last fall with a victory in the Zozo Championship. "Even when I wasn't playing well, I still felt like when I teed it up on that first hole, like I can go out and shoot 65.

“I had belief since Day 1 that I was going to be able to do it [win majors], and obviously you want to see the results, but just believing that it's possible and just knowing that it's going to happen," he added. "I talked before I won Zozo last year; I talked about I know I'm going to win again, it's just a matter of when, is it going to be tomorrow, is it going to be … but it's going to happen.”

Having reunited with coach Rick Sessinghaus prior to the Masters after a period under the tutelage of Mark Baldwin, Morikawa, 27, seems more like the player who won five times in swift order since turning pro in 2019. He said he had no regrets about making the change; the learning process was valuable.

He arrived at Augusta National after what he called a “flat” start to his season, but after three rounds he trailed eventual winner Scottie Scheffler by one before a closing 74 dropped him to T-3.

“It sucked to finish like that, and it sucked to lose to Scottie, but at the end of the day, I knew I had three more majors coming up and to prep for that and get things as sharp as possible and just come out strong,” said Morikawa, ranked 13th in the world. “It's obviously nice to get off to this start.”

All parts of his game appeared solid on Friday, especially tee-to-green, where he ranks second in the field in strokes gained. But seeing a complementary assist from his putter sure helps. He has needed just 49 putts over two rounds, tied for first among players who have completed 36 holes. His five straight birdies, starting at the fourth hole, his 13th of the day, is the longest streak of his major career and is the second-longest streak thus far among the four PGAs at Valhalla, trailing only the six in a row Mark Brooks registered in the opening round in 1996.

He currently leads the championship with 14 total birdies. Quite a turnaround in fortune after bogeying two of his first five holes to begin the championship.

“I've been putting great so far since Augusta, so it's nice to just kind of keep that trend going,” he said.

Amid a tight leaderboard and favorable scoring conditions, he better keep it going.