After pulling off a spectacular victory at the PGA Championships in San Francisco this summer, Collin Morikawa was one of the hottest names on the PGA tour.
But Morikawa’s level of play has cooled a bit since then, and the experts have mixed reaction to his chances in his first try at The Masters this week.
ESPN assembled a story that put players into groups with difference prospects of success. Morikawa was part of the 14-player Tier I: The guys who can win.
Golf Digest rated the 23-year-old former Cal star at No. 16 on its 1 through 92 rankings of Masters participants.
But CBS Sports is much higher on Morikawa’s chances, putting him at No. 5 on a similar list.
Here’s a look at Thursday/Friday tee times at Augusta National for Morikawa and fellow ex-Cal golfers Max Homa and Byeong Hun An:
Round 1 - Thursday (all times PST)
From 1st tee:
8:38 AM: Adam Scott, Collin Morikawa, Tyrrell Hatton
From 10th tee:
8:16 AM: Chez Reavie, Sebastian Munoz, Byeong Hun An
9 AM: Fred Couples, Max Homa, Dylan Frittelli
Round 2 - Friday (all times PST):
From 1st tee:
4:11 AM: Chez Reavie, Sebastian Munoz, Byeong Hun An
4:55 AM: Fred Couples, Max Homa, Dylan Frittelli
From 10th tee:
4:33 AM: Adam Scott, Collin Morikawa, Tyrrell Hatton
Morikawa enters this week ranked No. 4 in the world but he hasn’t done much lately to boost that. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open in September, which served as the opening of the 2021 season, and does not have a top-10 finish in any of his past four tournaments.
But Morikawa was impressive through most of the 2020 season, with two victories and seven top-10 showings.
*** CBS Sports believes Morikawa still belongs among the favorites. CBS jumped on the very crowded Bryson DeChambeau bandwagon and listed him as the favorite, followed by Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas.
Here’s what CBS had to say about Morikawa at No, 5:
For three straight years, he has averaged 1 stroke gained per round on approach shots. Legitimately might be the best iron player on the planet. Also gets my vote for the player most people watching the Masters have never heard of but will immediately get behind if he's near the lead at any point this week. Morikawa is playing his first Masters.
CBS has defending champ Tiger Woods at No. 23, with An at No. 47 and Homa at No. 70.
*** ESPN’s Tier 1 list of players most likely to contend for the title is headed by the same four players: DeChambeau, Rahm, Johnson and Thomas.
Morikawa checks in at No. 11 on ESPN’s list:
Everything has come fast for the 23-year-old Morikawa, who already has three victories in 36 PGA Tour starts and is ranked No. 4 in the world. After winning the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park earlier this year, he missed three cuts in five starts. This after making the first 22 cuts of his pro career (Tiger Woods was the only other player to do that since 1990). It will be Morikawa's first start at Augusta National, where he had never played a round until this week.
ESPN’s Tier II: If everything goes right . .. begins with Woods, while An and Homa fit into Tier III: Hey, miracles happen.
*** Golf Digest’s top four is a repeat — DeChambeau, Johnson, Thomas and Rahm. Morikawa slips to No. 16 on Golf Digest’s list:
At the time of last year’s Masters, Morikawa was still a senior at Cal and known only by those who pay attention to college golf. Now he’s a three-time PGA Tour winner, a major champion and a top-five player in the world. Began his career with 22 consecutive made cuts, telling you a lot about his ball-striking, which is other-guys-watch-him-on-the-range good. Plays a cut almost exclusively and doesn’t hit it miles, so Augusta wouldn’t seem to be the best fit, but he beat a bunch of big hitters on a TPC Harding Park track that certainly played into bombers’ hands. Interestingly, he’s missed the cut in three of his seven starts since winning that PGA and took T-50 out of 77 in his last tournament at the Zozo Championship. This will be his first of many, many Masters appearances.
Golf Digest ranks An at No. 40 and Homa at No. 59 in The Masters field.
*** SI's Ryan Asselta provides this video preview of The Masters:
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo
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