Cal's Collin Morikawa wins Northeast Amateur

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Cal's Collin Morikawa wins Northeast Amateur

Amateur

Cal's Collin Morikawa wins Northeast Amateur

Collin Morikawa’s strong start to the summer is rolling along.

The incoming Cal junior played solid golf Saturday at the Northeast Amateur, and that was enough. Morikawa fired a closing 1-over 70 to earn a two-shot win at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, R.I.

It was an 11-under 265 for the week, as Morikawa bettered Shintaro Ban’s and Theo Humphrey’s 9-under 267 score. Doug Ghim, one back of Morikawa’s 54-hole lead entering the day, closed in 3-over 72 to drop to solo fourth at 8 under.

For Morikawa, this one is a special victory.

“It feels great to win,” Morikawa said, via AmateurGolf.com. “To be a part of the history of the Northeast Amateur is fantastic.”

But don’t mistake euphoria for inexperience. This is another in a long line of triumphs for the Cal player.

Morikawa, 20, burst onto the scene as a junior with a victory at the 2013 Western Junior Championship. A seven-shot victory at the 2015 Trans-Mississippi Championship, in the summer prior to his freshman year at Cal, boosted the resume further. But he really stepped it up after an All-American freshman season.

Morikawa closed in 62 at the Sunnehanna Amateur last June for an emphatic come-from-behind win there. A week later he nearly captured the Web.com Tour’s Air Capital Classic, falling in a three-man playoff. His 2016-17 sophomore campaign at Cal would include his first college win (at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational), a playoff loss at the Southern Highlands Colllegiate and six other top-10 finishes. He closed the season ranked 13th in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.

And he hasn’t slowed down an iota this summer.

Morikawa nearly defended his Sunnehanna title, losing in a playoff to Ole Miss’ Braden Thornberry – only this year’s NCAA individual champion and winner of the Haskins Award presented by Stifel.

A week later, Morikawa indeed adds a big amateur title to his resume with this Northeast Am triumph. (And if you’re wondering: Yes, his chances to make the U.S. squad for the Walker Cup are at this moment quite strong.)

He was near or at the top throughout the week, as Morikawa was one back after each of the first two rounds (opening with rounds of 64 and 65). But he was never on top until after Friday’s third round, in which he posted a 66 to lead by one.

Morikawa, of La Canada Flintridge, Calif., upped his margin early in the final round. After the round was delayed nearly three hours due to heavy rain, Morikawa opened with a birdie and Ghim bogeyed. Suddenly the lead was three. The cushion moved to four when Ghim bogeyed the fourth.

Ghim, an incoming Texas senior and reigning Big 12 Player of the Year, kept up the fight. He birdied Nos. 10 and 13 to get back to 11 under, and by that point was within one. But bogeys at 15 and 16 ended his charge.

Morikawa made just one birdie against three bogeys from Nos. 5-16, but it didn’t prevent him from the title.

“I had to grind from the first hole,” Morikawa said. “I just knew I couldn’t let up, it was a long day. Luckily pars were good enough for me today.”

Nick Voke, the first-round leader, finished the week in a tie for eighth at 3 under.

Sam Burns, an LSU star who is set to turn pro in the fall, closed in 65 to place solo fifth at 5 under. Scottie Scheffler, fresh off low-am honors at the U.S. Open, opened in 65 and finished in a tie for 36th at 4 over.

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