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Cal Golf: Collin Morikawa Gets Engaged in the Bahamas, Closes in On World No. 1

The 24-year-old Cal grad has a five-stroke lead at the Hero World Challenge.

It’s already been a monumental week in the life of Collin Morikawa and it’s about to get even better.

Four days after proposing to his long-time girlfriend, Katherine Zhu, Morikawa shot an 8-under 64 on Saturday to forge a five-stoke lead after three rounds at the Hero World Challenge in Albany, Bahamas.

The 24-year-old Cal grad is at 18 under entering Sunday’s final round. He has a five-stroke lead over Brooks Koepka, and is 18 holes away from moving into the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Rankings.

If he completes his dream week with a victory on Sunday, Morikawa will have achieved the top ranking in just his 61st career start. That would be the second-fastest in history, behind Tiger Woods, who reached No. 1 after 21 events.

Morikawa’s bogey-free third round included an eagle-3 on the par-5 third hole along with birdies on Nos. 4, 9, 10, 11, 14 and 15. Koepka shot a 69 on Saturday.

Morikawa's eagle chip-in:

Sam Burns, Daniel Berger, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed and Vickor Hovland are tied for third at 12 under, six strokes back of Morikawa.

Morikawa, a 2019 graduate of Cal, shot a 68 in Thursday’s opening round, with six birdies and two bogeys. He had a 66 on Friday, mixing an eagle-3 on the par-5 15th with six birdies and two bogeys.

With a win Sunday, Morikawa will creep ahead of Jon Rahm into the top spot in the OWGR. Rahm is not playing this weekend.

Collin Morikawa and Katherine Zhu

Collin Morikwa and Katherine Zhu

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Morikawa, seemingly always cool and calm on the golf course, admits feeling nervous before proposing to his long-time girlfriend Zhu on Tuesday in the Bahamas.

“We took a boat ride around Nassau and stopped at this beach I had researched and picked as the spot. I wanted to make sure I proposed on the beach, because I was so worried about dropping the ring into the water. After that, we ended up spending half the day together in the water,” Morikawa told PGATour.com.

“I had never been so nervous as I was before proposing. We didn’t get into The Bahamas until about midnight Monday… my caddie and I got out to the course early Tuesday to practice. I was driving the cart and was close to running into ropes… I was not only tired, but was kind of freaking out, too.

“Even though I believed she was going to say yes, it’s a one-time opportunity and I wanted to make it really special. I was really nervous.”

Morikawa and Zhu, who goes by Kat, have been together for almost five years. While he was the star of Cal’s team, she played on the women’s team at Pepperdine.

“She has been there for me from the very beginning, long before I was ‘Collin Morikawa’ to the public. That’s the coolest thing to me. She doesn’t care how I play or what happens out there. She loves me for me. She has been amazing,” Morikawa said.

“An interesting little caveat is that I never once won a college event until she and I connected and started texting. It’s been pretty good since, I’d have to say… long distance, that’s not easy, but we were having fun and enjoying it. We just kept going and things got better and better.”

Morikawa says they have not yet set a date.

“I’m just glad she said yes and that we can keep going on,” he said.

Cover photo of Collin Morikawa by Scott Taetsch, USA Today

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo