BRADENTON, Fla. — PGA champion Collin Morikawa shook off an early mistake, regained control around the turn, delivered two clutch putts and then played a steady hand on a Concession Golf Club course known for calamity, closing with a 3-under 69 for a three-shot victory in the Workday Championship.
And there was a tribute to Tiger Woods, his golf idol growing up.
Morikawa choked up ever so slightly when it was over talking about Woods and what he has meant to the game, and his paternal grandfather, who died last month.
“You don’t get to say thank you enough,” Morikawa said. “So, thank you, guys.”
“With how good the field was, how good my game felt, to close it out with such a stacked leaderboard coming after me, it really means a lot,” Morikawa said.
Morikawa, who finished at 18-under 270, won for the fourth time in his past 34 starts on the PGA Tour.
He became the 24th player to win a major and a World Golf Championship title, and the 24-year-old Californian joined Woods as the only players to win both before turning 25. Woods was 23 when he won the first of his 18 World Golf Championships.
There were red numbers on the board and on the golf course, and several were players wearing red shirts and black pants — the Sunday colors of Woods — as a show of support as Woods recovers from career-threatening leg injuries from his car crash in Los Angeles last Tuesday.
Morikawa didn’t have the colors, but he had the game.
So many times on Sunday, Woods had the lead and forced everyone to catch him. Outside of a chunked chip on the second hole that made him scramble for bogey, Morikawa didn’t miss a fairway the rest of the way and was rarely out of position.
Horschel caught Morikawa after three holes and tried to stay with him. Koepka had the last good chance to catch him until, trailing by three with a 35-foot eagle chance on the 17th hole, he three-putted for par.
Hovland, who finished his second round with a quadruple bogey, might have had the best chance of all. Hovland somehow managed to punch out of the wire grass and onto the green to make birdie on the par-5 13th, his seventh birdie of the round that pulled him within one shot.
His hopes effectively ended on the next hole. Just as Morikawa was pouring in an 8-foot birdie putt on the short par-4 12th hole, Hovland ran his 40-foot birdie putt some 15 feet past the hole on the par-3 14th and missed the par putt.
Morikawa’s lead was back to 3 shots, and he never flinched the rest of the day.
Morikawa was down on his putting a few weeks ago while at home in Las Vegas when he decided to try the “saw” putting grip that O’Meara perfected. He rotates his right hand so that his first two fingers extend down the grip. O’Meara recently moved to Las Vegas, and Morikawa sought him out.
And then at Concession, Morikawa asked club member Azinger for help with his chipping on the Bermuda grass. Azinger said it took about 10 minutes, more about technique to get the bounce in the wedge more involved.
Both worked beautifully all week.
Scottie Scheffler also was in the mix with six birdies in 12 holes. He drove into the water on the 16th and made double bogey and shot 68 to finish fifth.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.