Morikawa puts his own kind of stamp on winning PGA title

Golf

NORTON, Mass. (AP)Collin Morikawa put his own kind of stamp on winning his first major at the PGA Championship.

He was unpacking from his week at Harding Park and was about to put away the two pairs of golf shoes he wore for the week. That’s when the 23-year-old Californian decided it was worthy of a memento.

”I never really keep a ball or whatever for certain tournaments,” Morikawa said Tuesday. ”But I wrote ‘2020 PGA Championship’ on the side of my shoes and just want to have something to remember that. I was talking to my girlfriend and you know, this is my first major. And I’m always going to remember it. I’m going to remember every single win, but just having that first major I’m going to remember a little more.”

Those are just the shoes. The big question is what about the driver?

It was his tee shot on the 294-yard 16th hole to 7 feet for eagle that sent him to a two-shot victory, a shot that will be remembered as one of the best drives in major championship history. Some majors, like the Masters and U.S. Open, will ask champions to donate a club that was central to winning.

”The driver, who knows when TaylorMade is going to come out with a new one and I’ve got to switch,” Morikawa said. ”I’ll probably just mark it with a little `PGA Championship,’ maybe a Sharpie on the head to remember it.”

And then?

”Probably just stick in my other bags at home when I start collecting them and they start piling up,” he said. ”I really don’t know.”

The shoes already have their own spot. He said he has a big cabinet of shoes in his Las Vegas garage. Morikawa said he threw them in there with all his other shoes, ”sitting in 110-degree heat.”

There was one other memento from Harding Park he didn’t want.

TaylorMade had special golf bags for its staff players, trimmed in black and orange for a San Francisco Giants theme. Morikawa grew up in the Los Angeles area. The bag went to his caddie.

”Promised him at the beginning of the week that’s it’s his, and it’s still going to be his,” Morikawa said. ”I do not want that in my house, being a Dodgers fan.”

RAHM’S UNCERTAIN AUTUMN

Jon Rahm won twice toward the end of last year on the European Tour, titles that he might not be able to defend.

One of them was the Spanish Open, originally scheduled for Oct. 15-18, but no longer on the schedule. The other is the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, which has been pushed back three weeks to Dec. 10-13.

Still lingering are concerns with travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

”Right now, I just don’t see myself going to Europe,” Rahm said Tuesday. ”It’s rough flying public, having to have a flight, a mask on for 10-plus hours, just doesn’t sound very good to me. Doesn’t sound healthy at all, so I don’t know what I’m going to be doing.”

It’s about more than golf. Rahm isn’t sure he’ll be able to travel to Spain to see his family at Christmas.

”If it comes between going to Spain and seeing my family and playing a golf tournament, I’m not playing golf,” he said. ”That’s all I can say.”

That could create other opportunities. Rahm didn’t start his PGA Tour season until January at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Maui. He typically plays the European Tour in the fall and has not played any of the PGA Tour’s events in Asia.

The CJ Cup is likely headed from South Korea to Las Vegas for this year because of the pandemic, and that’s appealing to Rahm. He played college golf at Arizona State and lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

”A short flight, a tournament I wanted to play, and it wouldn’t be bad to get some FedEx Cup points before showing up in Maui and being already a thousand points behind,” he said.

POSTSEASON STREAK

Adam Scott won his first PGA Tour event at the TPC Boston in 2003 as a sponsor exemption to the Deutsche Bank Championship. Returning this year brings good vibes, along with extending a streak.

Scott is among nine players who have qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs every year since they began in 2007. Also on that short list are Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Charles Howell III, Ryan Moore, Brandt Snedeker and Charley Hoffman.

Rose and Hoffman were in danger of missing out. Hoffman was No. 116 – only the top 125 qualify for the postseason – when he tied for seventh at Muirfield Village for the Workday Charity Open. Rose was at No. 121 when he finished ninth two weeks ago at the PGA Championship.

Mickelson, meanwhile, is the only player to have reached the BMW Championship for the top 70 players every year. That streak is in jeopardy as Mickelson comes into The Northern Trust at No. 67. The BMW Championship is next week at Olympia Fields south of Chicago.

NEW MEMBERS

Erik van Rooyen of South Africa and Will Gordon earned enough FedEx Cup points to be the equivalent of at least No. 125. That didn’t get them a spot in the FedEx Cup playoffs, but they now are full PGA Tour members for next season.

Van Rooyen, who played college golf at Minnesota and lives in south Florida, earned the bulk of his points from a tie for third in the Mexico Championship, two weeks before golf shut down because of the pandemic.

Gordon tied for 10th at Sea Island at the end of last year, and then pushed over the top with his tie for third at the Travelers Championship, where he closed with a 64.

Players could only improve their status this year because of the pandemic-shortened season. That means those who fell out of the top 125 still have the same status they started the season with last September. The tour left room for players who worked their way toward better status. That list includes Harris English, who had conditional status a year ago and now is No. 28 going into the postseason.

EUROPEAN SHUFFLE

The reconfigured schedule means the Irish Open is moving from May to Sept. 24-27, the date that previously was occupied by the Ryder Cup before it was postponed until next year.

It’s more than a date change. The Irish Open is moving this year from Mount Juliet in Ireland to Galgorm in Northern Ireland, where it will be under the same travel guidelines as the ”UK Swing” events. However, the prize fund without having spectators now is 1.25 million euros ($1.49 million), meaning the Irish Open will not have ”Rolex Series” status this year.

Meanwhile, the European Tour confirmed that the Scottish Open and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth will be held in consecutive weeks in October immediately after the Irish Open.

DIVOTS

Jim Herman became the fifth player outside the top 200 in the world to win a PGA Tour event this season, excluding the opposite-field events. … Sam Horsfield of England is on a roller coaster of form. In his last three events on the European Tour, he won, missed the cut and won again. … Billy Horschel (No. 69 in 2014) and Rory McIlroy (No. 36 in 2016) are the only FedEx Cup champions to have started the FedEx Cup playoffs out of the top 25. … Scottie Scheffler and Viktor Hovland are among eight PGA Tour rookies who qualified for the postseason. … Of the top 20 in the FedEx Cup standings, Xander Schauffele, Abraham Ancer and Hideki Matsuyama are the only ones without a victory this season.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Had the calendar not been altered by the pandemic, a player winning all four majors and all four World Golf Championships would have earned $515,000 more than the $15 million that goes to the FedEx Cup champion.

FINAL WORD

”This didn’t just happen by me winning the Barracuda and then not remembering how to play golf from there. It’s been a lot of work, a lot of practice and improvements.” – Collin Morikawa on his mathematical chance to reach No. 1 in the world in just 15 months as a pro.

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/apf-Golf and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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