Rahm wins Tournament of Champions as Morikawa loses big lead

KAPALUA, Hawaii — Jon Rahm started a bold new year on the PGA Tour coming from 7 strokes behind to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions on Sunday with plenty of help from Collin Morikawa, who had a spectacular wipeout even by the standards of Maui.

Rahm was 6 shots down on the 13th hole at Kapalua when he birdied three straight and a 12-foot eagle putt, and his final birdie gave him a 10-under 63.

Morikawa had gone 67 bogey-free holes on the Plantation Course when it all came crashing down with his wedges and putter, the two areas that had carried him to a 6-stroke lead at the start of the day.

25 yards from the 14th green it exploded out of a bunker and over the green. He missed a corner of a tight lie with the grass seed in him on the par-5 15. His corner on 16th didn’t go far enough and rolled about 60 feet into the fairway.

Morikawa appeared to be in shock as he descended the 17th fairway, having led up to 7 strokes in the final round and suddenly finding himself 2 strokes behind and out of hope.

He ended up tying a PGA Tour record for losing the biggest 54-hole lead to 6 strokes. Seven other players have done so, most recently Dustin Johnson in the fall of 2017 at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

He also became the first player in tour history to enter the final round with a lead of 6 or more shots, shoot under par in the final round, and not win the event, according to research. ESPN Stats & Info.

Rahm finished 27-under 265 to win by 2 strokes over Morikawa, who birdied the 18th hole – his first birdie since No. 6 – to close with a 72.

“It’s going to hurt, but I have to get over it because we’re still at the very beginning of the season,” Morikawa said.

It was Morikawa’s second collapse in just over a year. He closed out 2021 at the Hero World Challenge and had a 5-stroke lead with a chance to reach world No. 1 with a win. He shot 76 and finished fifth.

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler had a chance to return to No. 1 this week if he finished tied at two for third place or better. He had to settle for a 70 and finished tied for seventh.

It was a small measure of redemption for Rahm, who finished last year at 33 under par in Kapalua, which was a PGA Tour record that lasted just seconds. Cameron Smith finished at 34 under to win by 1 shot.

Rahm is now under 60 in his last two Kapalua appearances. The victory was his ninth on the PGA Tour and 17th in the world, and ensures he will be back in Maui to start 2024.

Rahm has now won three times in his last six starts around the world – he won in Spain and Dubai late last year – and he’s going home with $4.2 million.

Rahm won $2.7 million on the $15 million purse in Kapalua, the first of the “elevated” events on the PGA Tour schedule. He also receives 25% of his bonus from the Player Impact program – he finished No. 5 in the PIP for $6 million.

Rahm has now won in each of his seven full years on the PGA.

Tom Hoge had a 64 and was tied for third with Max Homa (66). Hoge headed to the airport on his way to Los Angeles to watch his school, TCU, play for the national championship against Georgia. Hoge will then return to Hawaii for the Sony Open.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *