Victory in inaugural Workday Charity Open last year propels Californian to PGA Championship title 4 weeks later
When the Canadian Open was canceled in July because of COVID-19, software company Workday stepped in to fill the open spot on the PGA Tour’s schedule, one week ahead of the postponed Memorial Tournament. To minimize travel and exposure to the virus, the inaugural Workday Charity Open was held at Muirfield Village as the opener of a two-week July doubleheader in Dublin, Ohio. Morikawa won the Workday Charity Open, edging Justin Leonard on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff.
“It doesn't feel like I'm the defending champ and I'm definitely not the defending champ, but I've had success here and I really love the course,” said Morikawa, a 24-year-old Californian and former Pac-12 champion at Cal-Berkeley. “The first time I showed up last year, those two weeks, it didn't really matter that I won or didn't win. I just fell in love with the place. I knew this was a place I was going to love for the rest of my life.”
The victory, the second of his PGA Tour career in only his 27th start, proved to be a springboard to even greater success. Four weeks later, he won his first major championship, the PGA. He since has added the WGC Workday title earlier this year.
That’s four victories among 15 top-10 results in only 48 starts on the PGA Tour. Morikawa, in an understated self-appraisal, rates his early career as “solid.”
“I'm not going to want to take away any of those four wins, but to be honest, I came out to the PGA Tour knowing that I was ready to play golf and ready to compete,” said Morikawa, who won the 2019 Barracuda Championship, an opposite-field event with modified Stableford scoring, in only his sixth professional start and eighth overall. “I wish I was a little more consistent. I wish I could have a few more top-10s. I wish I could kind of contend a little more on continuous weeks.
“I've seen my performances after wins, and they haven't been great, and I’ve got to find the reason why,” said Morikawa, who tied for 48th in the 2020 Memorial, one week after winning the Workday Charity Open on the same course. “The best players in the world aren't just kind of competing one week out of the year, four weeks out of the year. They're competing every week they tee it up.”
Morikawa returned to central Ohio after four consecutive top-20 results, dating to a T-18 at the Masters. He tied for seventh at the RBC Heritage before finishing T-8 in his title defense at the PGA, followed by a T-14 at the Charles Schwab Challenge last week. At No. 6 in the Official World Golf Ranking, he will be one of seven of the top 10 players in the world scheduled to compete at Memorial.
The winner will receive $1.674 million from the $9.3 million purse. (For a look at the field, click here.)
Morikawa leads the PGA Tour in greens in regulation, hitting 72.22 percent, and he ranks sixth in birdie average, with 4.4 per round. Most of his putting stats, however, rank near the bottom of the Tour. “For me, obviously, it just comes down to putting,” he said, “and I think I say this every week, but it's true.
“I want to put myself in contention, and I really think it's going to come down to me just being an overall better player from tee to green and on the green.”
Sign up to receive the Morning Read newsletter, along with Where To Golf Next and The Equipment Insider.