Whatever chance Collin Morikawa had to lift himself into contention on the weekend at the Tour Championship took an early hit in Friday’s second round of golf’s season-ending event.
Morikawa had bogeys on four of the first seven holes and a double-bogey on No. 13, finishing the day at three-over 73 at the East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta.
Factoring in the three-under starting score he brought to the final leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the 24-year-old Cal graduate is now at even par through 36 holes and in 25th place in the 30-player field.
Morikawa trails second-round leader Patrick Cantlay by 17 strokes heading into play Saturday.
It’s been a crazy season for Morikawa, who put together eight top-10 finishes this year. He has won twice, including at the British Open, his second major title in three seasons on the PGA Tour.
He was chosen to represent the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics in late July, but he injured his back in the first round there. He somehow competed for a medal, finishing fourth, but has not been the same player since.
Morikawa has said in pre-tournament interviews the past two weeks that his back is feeling fine. He also said the problem now is that he fouled up his swing while compensating for the back ailment and is in the process of trying to erase those new bad habits.
He bogeyed Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 7 before finally making a birdie on No. 8. Then came the double-bogey at 13 and birdies at Nos. 16 and 18.
Cantlay, whose win last week at the BMW Championship gave him a minus-10 score to start this week, shot a 4-under 66 for the second day in a row and has a net score of minus-17 in the chase for the $15 million prize that goes to the winner of the Tour Championship/Fed Ex Cup playoffs.
World No. 1 Jon Rahm remains just one stroke back after making birdies on the final three holes for a 65 on Friday, leaving him at 16 under overall.
“We definitely feed off each other,” Rahm said. “And that’s probably why you see the difference in the scoreboard right now.”
The rest of the field has work to do. Bryson DeChambeau is at minus-11 and Justin Thomas at minus-10.
Cover photo of Collin Morikawa by Adam Hagy, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo