Still not playing at the level he did a year ago when he won this event, Collin Morikawa managed to barely make the cut Friday at the DP World Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
The 24-year-old Cal grad, ranked No. 2 in the world, shot a two-over 74 in difficult conditions in the second round to exactly hit the cut number of plus-3. He had a 73 in Thursday’s opening round.
Morikawa sits in a logjam at 60th place, 10 strokes off the pace, in the event which began with a field of 132 golfers. Winds gusting to 40 miles per hour, only five of 93 golfers who completed the course before play was suspended finished their round under par.
He birded the par-4 third hole but didn’t make another birdie the rest of the day and had bogeys on Nos. 5, 13 and 17.
First-round leader Scott Jamieson of Scotland cooled off after opening with a 63. But his second-round 74 still keeps him atop the leaderboard at minus-7. Viktor Hovland, Ian Poulter and James Morrison are one stroke back at six under.
Rory McIlroy needed a birdie on No. 18 to make the cut, also finishing two rounds at plus-3 and tied with Morikawa.
Back in November, Morikawa won a COVID-delayed Abu Dhabi event with a four-round score of 17 under par. That victory, by one stroke over McIlroy, also made him the first American to secure the European points leadership for the season.
Morikawa arrived at Abu Dhabi presented with his third shot at above Jon Rahm into the No. 1 spot in the world rankings.
To get it done this weekend, Morikawa needs to defend his title with a win while Rahm, playing at the PGA Tour’s American Express tournament in California, finishes worse than a two-way tie for seventh.
Cover photo of Collin Morikawa by Michael Madrid, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo