Collin Morikawa reportedly made what is being described as a “dramatic switch to his putting grip,” and it seems have paid off on Friday.
The 2019 Cal grad, who celebrated his 24th birthday earlier this month, shot an eight-under 64 in the second round of the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida, to move into a tie for second place.
Morikawa, at 11-under 134, trails Brooks Koepka by a single stroke heading into Saturday’s third round.
Morikawa had nine birdies and one bogey over the par-72 course at the Concession and afterward was feeling very good about his putting game.
"My putting has never felt this good, and whether I make or miss putts, knowing that my stroke is good, line-wise, tempo, that's all that matters," Morikawa told reporters.
"I'm going to read some great one day and not the others, and the days like today where I read them great, we're going to be going low.”
Morikawa is tied with Cameron Smith and Billy Horschel for second place.
He shot a 2-under 70 in the opening round, during which he made six birdies but also two bogeys and a double-bogey six on the par-4 16th.
Fellow Cal grad Max Homa, coming off his second career tour victory at The Genesis Invitational last week, shot a 70 on Friday and resides in an eight-way tie for 35th place at minus-1. He opened with a 73 in the first round.
Morikawa, the reigning PGA Championship winner, had seventh-place finishes at the Sentry Open and Sony Open on back-to-back January weekends.
He altered his grip prior to The Genesis Invitational last week and struggled to a tie for 43rd place, with 73s in both the first and final rounds.
Alex Myers, in Golf Digest, wrote about the change Morikawa made and the difference it made:
Despite being the reigning PGA champ and the sixth-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, Morikawa made a dramatic switch to his putting grip before the Genesis Invitational. It didn't work.
Morikawa made the cut, but finished dead last in strokes-gained/putting among the 67 golfers who played the weekend. When you're ranked 213th on tour for the season in the stat, it's tough to do worse, but that's what Morikawa did, losing nearly two shots per round.
This business administration major from Cal-Berkeley is no dummy, though, and he understands what a small sample size is. So Morikawa gave the saw grip another chance this week and the results on Friday were fantastic as he rolled in nine birdies and gained 1.2 strokes on the greens, an improvement of more than three strokes from last week and nearly two strokes from his season average.
Morikawa’s 64 matched the best score of his professional career, the sixth time he’s done it.
Cover photo of Collin Morikawa by Gary A. Vasquez, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo