Collin Morikawa is almost perfect for beating Justin Thomas in a playoff

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DUBLIN, Ohio – Collin Morikawa never looked like a winner at the Workday Charity Open until he reached the third playoff hole performed for a par in the third playoff-hole wild finish on Sunday at Muirfield Village.

Morikawa followed Justin Thomas with three three-hole shots to play and managed to get into a play-off with a six-under-par 66. Then, after seeing Thomas hole, a 50-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole, he had to make a 25-footer to stay alive. He could only watch Thomas miss a 10-footer at number 18 on the second playoff hole that would have won him.

It eventually ended at number 10 when Thomas had to lie down from behind the tree and then made bogey, and Morikawa picked up two putts of just under 10 feet for his second career win, first against a strong PGA Tour field.

"It was crazy," said Morikawa.

It was also a shock to Thomas. He lost a lead of two shots in three holes at the start. He ran four straight birdies away and had 10 consecutive one-putts to build a three-shot lead through 15 holes.

Thomas did nothing bad wrong – a tee shot in the chunky collar on the par 3 16th that led to bogey, a 12-foot birdie attempt on the 17th that narrowly missed, and a tee shot that found a bunker on the 18th and led to another bogey and a 69. They finished on 19-under 269.

Thomas looked like the winner when his 50-foot birdie putt found the center of the cup on the 18th. Morikawa, who lost a playoff in Colonial last month by missing a 3-foot putt, didn't want to let it go.

"I never thought it was over," said Thomas. "Percentages would say it's almost like that."

Viktor Hovland from Norway had a 71 and only finished in third place. He was in the last group of three young stars, all of whom were in the lead at one point during the last round.

Hovland's hope ended with two shots – finding a bunker from the 10th fairway for bogey, and a driver on the accessible 14th who missed only about 1.5 meters, enough to slowly descend the bank descend and enter the water.

Morikawa also hit the driver on the 14th who rolled 12 feet away. He barely missed the eagle putt and then his chance seemed to disappear at the next hole.

He was on the par-5 15th in a rugged ruin to the right of the fairway, not sure if he's across the slope to the next section of fairway. It was tough, just down the fairway, about 300 yards away. Thomas was already on the green in two. Morikawa went through a bunker to the steep slope near the green and did well going up and down for par.

Still he was three down with three to play. Thomas missed a 10-foot par putt on the 16th. Morikawa made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th. And then Thomas, unable to reach the 18th green from a fairway bunker, missed a 3-meter par-putt for the regulatory win.

"It is totally unacceptable to give up a three-shot lead with three passes," said Thomas. "I'm upset, I'm disappointed in myself. But by the end of the day it's over now, and I need to take some time this afternoon and tonight to build on it and figure out what I can do better next week. & # 39;

The beginning times were shifted to avoid prediction of thunderstorms. The weather was pleasant for Ohio in July. The last round was much more unpredictable.

Thomas, who had a two-shot lead, had 55 holes without a bogey at Muirfield Village, then made back-to-back bogeys with a wedge in his hand from the

Hovland was the first to benefit with a wedge up to 2 feet for birdie at number 3, the first of three straight birdies. Morikawa quickly joined him with a tee shot that hit the pin on par-3 fourth and took inches away for birdie. He then hit his second shot to a front pin on the par-5 fifth to 3 feet in front of the eagle.

Hovland and Morikawa were bound. Thomas was three shots behind, and seemed to be about to fade when neither bird was par 5s and had to make an 8 foot par in between.

One shot sent Thomas his way, or so it seemed. He hit a 6 to 2 foot iron for a bird on the eighth. That was the start of four straight birdies and it was part of a stretch in which Thomas had 10 consecutive greens with one putt. The last of which was a 25-foot eagle putt that gave him a three-shot lead with three holes left.

It looked like it was over. That was only the beginning.

It was the second play-off in five events since the PGA Tour resumed after the pandemic-imposed halt, and Morikawa was involved in both.

"This is a huge kind of springboard," said Morikawa, who goes to number 13 in the world, a place for Tiger Woods.

Now they are getting ready to do it again. Muirfield Village is closed on Mondays to allow crews to prepare for the Memorial Tournament, which begins on Thursday. The work involves changing all signage and removing ten electronic scoreboards from the course. Muirfield track designer and founder of the Memorial, Jack Nicklaus prefers to see all scores on manual whiteboards, as with the Masters.

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