Collin Morikawa joins an exclusive club of major champions
Only nine players in more than a century have captured the PGA Championship in their debut
Collin Morikawa broke from a crowded, star-studded leaderboard with one swing at the 2020 PGA Championship.
The reward for taking the risk with driver off the tee is his first major championship. Morikawa, 23, the wunderkind from nearby Cal-Berkeley, drove the par-4 16th green, and sank the 7-footer for eagle, the cushion needed to hold off Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey by two shots. Morikawa shot a six-under 64 on a pressure-packed Sunday at TPC Harding Park, finishing at 13-under overall.
Morikawa has already won three times in just 29 career starts on the PGA Tour. He looked and played calm and composed, an incredible feat considering this was just the second major of his career and first appearance at the PGA Championship. He becomes just the ninth player in 102 years of the PGA Championship to win in his debut. The list of others to accomplish the rare feat is an interesting mix of names you’ll recognize and probably a few you won’t.
- Before Morikawa, it was Keegan Bradley who announced himself to the world at the 2011 PGA Championship. Bradley, the rookie of the year on Tour that year, outlasted Jason Dufner in a three-hole playoff at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
- Shaun Micheel pulled it off in the most memorable way. His shot to two feet on the final hole at Oak Hill Country Club in 2003 remains one of the best clutch shots in major championship history. He held off Chad Campbell by two shots for his first, and only, win on the PGA Tour.
- Who can forget the saga of John Daly? Squeaking into the field at Crooked Stick in Indiana as the ninth alternate, Daly rode his power to 36- and 54-hole leads that he never relented at the 1991 PGA Championship. Daly would later win The Open in 1995.
- Bob Tway won four times on the PGA Tour in 1986, none bigger than his only career major. Tway overtook Greg Norman when a Sunday rain delay pushed the final round of the 1986 PGA Championship to Monday after just one hole at the Inverness Club in Ohio. Norman, the 54-hole leader at all four majors in 1986, let a four-shot lead melt away.
- Not surprisingly, considering the volatility of the format, the match-play era of the PGA Championship ushered in its share of new participants as winners. In 1955, Doug Ford beat Cary Middlecoff, 4&3, in the finale at Meadowbrook Country Club in Michigan. Ford also won the stroke play qualifier that week, proving he was the most deserving champion.
- Bob Hamilton’s match-play victory at the 1944 PGA Championship over five-time champion Byron Nelson ranks among the biggest upsets in major championship history. He birdied the final hole to win 1-up in the first PGA Championship since the start of World War II.
- Tom Creavy plowed through Gene Sarazen, 5&3, in the semis and Denny Chute, 2&1, in the finals to capture the 1931 PGA Championship. At 20 years and seven months old, he’s still the second youngest player ever to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy.
- History buffs will probably recall that Jim Barnes won the first two PGA Championship in 1916 and 1919. After 1916, the event was delayed two years because of World War I. He’s still the only Englishman to claim victory on American soil.