Can Collin Morikawa Join Select Group Next Week as Repeat PGA Winner?

Only two players - including Tiger Woods - have won it back-to-back since 1937.
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Cal alum Collin Morikawa will try to join an elite club next week at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island off South Carolina.

He will attempt to win back-to-back PGA Championship titles.

You’re thinking, didn’t Brooks Koepka just do this in 2018-19?

Yes, he did. And Tiger Woods has done it twice — in 1999-2000 and 2006-07. But that’s Tiger Woods. No else was Tiger Woods in his prime.

Aside from those two, no one has won the event in consecutive years since Denny Shute, the American-born son of an English golf pro, who took the PGA in 1936 and ’37. For those of you who are math-impaired, that was 84 years ago.

Walter Hagen won four in a row, but did it nearly a century ago.

Jack Nicklaus won five PGA titles, including three in a span of five years. Never two in a row.

Arnold Palmer never won the PGA Championship.

Winning any golf tournament is tough. Winning a major is tougher. And winning it twice in a row is rare and special.

Morikawa, who values the majors enough that he took last week and this week off to rest and prepare, delivered a magical performance at Harding Park in San Francisco last summer to win the PGA. The event is back in its normal spring slot on the calendar and returns to Kiawah Island for the first time since 2012, when Rory McIlroy won.

Morikawa, ranked No. 6 in the world, will get a lot of attention next week as the defending champ.

What are his chances of pulling off the repeat?

The William Hill Sportsbook lists him at 22-1 to emerge victorious. That gives him the ninth-best chance of winning, according to the oddsmakers. No surprise that world No. 1 Dustin Johnson is the favorite, at 11-1.

Max Homa, the ex-Cal standout who is defending his title this week at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in North Carolina, is listed as 70-1. Byeong-Hun An, another former Golden Bear, is 150-1.

Here are the top 10, according to William Hill:

Dustin Johnson 11-1

Jon Rahm 12-1

Justin Thomas 14-1

Bryson DeChambeau 14-1

Jordan Spieth 16-1

Xander Schauffele 16-1

Rory McIlroy 16-1

Brooks Koepka 18-1

Collin Morikawa 22-1

Hideki Matsuyama 25-1

Meanwhile, CBS Sportsline used a computer to simulate the PGA results 10,000 times and came up an unexpected winner: Bryson DeChambeau.

Here’s what CBS wrote about DeChambeau:

One huge shocker the model is calling for at the PGA Championship 2021: Bryson DeChambeau, the fifth-ranked player in the world and the 2020 US Open champion, stumbles big-time and barely cracks the top 10. DeChambeau is powerful off the tee and leads the Tour in driving distance, but his driving accuracy percentage ranks 136th, and that weakness will be magnified at the Ocean Course.

But the CBS computer simulation also likes Morikawa.

Another surprise: Collin Morikawa, a massive long shot at 22-1, makes a strong run at his second PGA Championship title. Morikawa won this tournament at TPC Harding Park last year in just his second career start in a major. This year, he enters the Ocean Course playing his best stretch of golf with four top-10 finishes, including one win, over his last nine events.

Morikawa is exceptionally balanced in all parts of his game and ranks among the top 10 in both driving accuracy percentage (70.45) and greens in regulation percentage (72.85). No one on tour has gained more strokes in approaching the green, which has helped him reach a 4.64 birdie average, fourth-best among all golfers. The Ocean Course is one of the most difficult in the world with its tree-lined holes and breezy conditions, but Morikawa's game of precision and accuracy is well-suited for the course.

Cover photo of Collin Morikawa by Rob Schumacher, USA Today

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