The Journal Gazette
 
 
Monday, March 01, 2021 1:00 am

Golf

Morikawa cruises at WGC event

Associated Press

BRADENTON, Fla. – The plan was for PGA champion Collin Morikawa to wear a red shirt with his black pants Sunday to show support for Tiger Woods as he recovers from career-threatening leg injuries from a car crash.

The clothes shipped to him never arrived, so Morikawa did the next best thing at the Workday Championship.

Morikawa played like Woods.

Staked to a two-shot lead, Morikawa shook off an early mistake, regained control around the turn, delivered two clutch putts and then played a steady hand at Concession Golf Club.

Just like Woods has done so often, Morikawa forced everyone to catch him. No one did, and his 3-under 69 gave him a three-shot victory for his first World Golf Championship.

“With how good the field was, how good my game felt, to close it out with such a stacked leader board coming after me, it really means a lot,” Morikawa said.

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.

Morikawa, who finished at 18-under 270, won for the fourth time in his last 34 starts on the PGA Tour. He finished three ahead of Brooks Koepka (70), Viktor Hovland (67) and Billy Horschel (70).

PGA: In Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Branden Grace closed eagle-birdie to win the Puerto Rico Open, an emotional triumph following his father's January death after a month-long fight with the coronavirus.

Grace holed out from a greenside bunker for eagle on the par-4 17th and birdied the par-5 18th for a one-stroke victory over Jhonattan Vegas at windy Grand Reserve.

“This morning I had a tear in the car when I was talking to my wife,” Grace said about father Peter. “It was an emotional day. I thought about him a hell of a lot out there, especially the last tee shot. I was really struggling the last hole, because I knew he was watching over me. I knew he was guiding me.”

The 32-year-old South African player won for the second time on the PGA Tour and 13th worldwide, closing with a 6-under 66 to finish at 19-under 269.

LPGA: In Orlando, Florida, Nelly Korda seized control with three early birdies and finished with 12 straight pars for a 3-under 69 to win the Gainbridge LPGA and give the Korda family two victories to start the season.

Her older sister, Jessica, won the season-opening Tournament of Champions last month in Orlando.

Nelly Korda won for the first time on American soil – her other three LPGA wins were in Australia and twice in Taiwan.

On the other side of the course, Annika Sorenstam wrapped up her return after more than 12 years of retirement with a par on the ninth hole for a 76 to finish last among the 74 players who made the cut.

PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: In Tucson, Arizona, Kevin Sutherland chipped in for the only birdie of the final round on No. 16 and had a tap-in for another on the next hole and shot a 4-under 69 to overtake Mike Weir to win the Colorguard Classic.

Sutherland trailed by two to start the day and was down four after Weir birdied the par-5 eighth in blustery conditions at Tucson National. Sutherland cut Weir's lead in half with two birdies in his first three holes to start on the back nine and chipped in from short right of the 183-yard, par-3 16th.

Sutherland tapped in on 17 and just missed another birdie on the difficult 18th to close out his second victory in his last three PGA Tour Champions starts and fifth overall. He finished at 15-under 204, two ahead of Weir, three up on Steve Stricker and Scott Parel.


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