U.S. Open: Collin Morikawa Birdies Final 2 Holes For Even-Par 70

Fellow Cal alum Max Homa checks in at 71 - six strokes off the lead.
Collin Morikawa lines up a putt at the U.S. Open
Collin Morikawa lines up a putt at the U.S. Open / Katie Goodale-USA TODAY Sports

Collin Morikawa birdied the final two holes Thursday, averting what could have been a disastrous start to the 124th U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, NC.

The 27-year-old Cal grad left himself in a jam after double-bogeys on the par-3 ninth and 15th holes. But birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 — including a chip-in out of the sand on 17 — left him at even-par 70 for the day and five strokes off the lead in a tie 16th place.

Fellow Cal alum Max Homa finished at 1-over 71, part of a tie for 34th place

Morikawa is coming off a runner-up finish at the Memorial last week and is the only golfer to have finished in the top five at the year’s two previous majors, the PGA and the Masters.

Ranked No. 7 in the world, Morikawa began the day with three birdies before making bogey on No. 4. He followed that with birdies on the next two holes before making the first of his two double-bogeys on No. 9. 

He birdied the 10th but his second double-bogey pushed him to plus-2 and tied for 32nd place through 15 holes. By carding birdies on the final two holes, Morikawa climbed back to even for the day.

Homa, ranked 10th in the world had two birdies and three bogeys.

Golfers are chasing the largest purse ever awarded at one of the majors, with the winner set to earn $4.3 million out of the total $21.5 million payout.

Patrick Cantlay was the early leader at 5-under after his round of 65 that included six birdies. It was his lowest round in four months. 

“I’ve been working really hard on my game, and usually when you make just a couple changes and you’re working really hard, it’s just a matter of time,” he said.

Rory McIlroy, seeking his first major title in 10 years, started later in the day and matched Cantlay with a bogey-free 65 to share the lead. He made a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to pull into a share of the lead.

“I think just super conservative with my strategy and my game,” McIlroy said, asked about his approach. “I think with my demeanor, just trying to be super stoic. Just trying to be as even-keeled as I possibly can be. I really feel like that’s the thing that has served me well in these U.S. Opens over the past few years.”

Ludvig Aberg is one stroke back in third place after a 66 and Matthew Pavon and Bryson DeChambeau are tied for fourth at 67.

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, winner of five tournaments this season including the Memorial last week, shot a 1-over 71 and is tied for 34th place, six strokes off the pace.

Former Cal golfer Byeong Hun An shot a 4-over 74 without a birdie and sits in a tie for 87th place. Among those he is alongside is Tiger Woods, who birdied No. 1 but wound up making six bogeys over his final 17 holes.

"I didn't hit my irons particularly well," Woods said. "Didn't putt that great. Drove it on the string all day. Unfortunately, I just didn't capitalize on it."

Also well back in the pack is Phil Mickelson, who won the U.S. Open 25 years ago but bogeyed nine of 18 holes and finished with a 9-over 79 that has him tied for 146th place, ahead of just four golfers.

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Jeff Faraudo


Jeff Faraudo was a sports writer for Bay Area daily newspapers since he was 17 years old, and was the Oakland Tribune's Cal beat writer for 24 years. He covered eight Final Fours, four NBA Finals and four Summer Olympics.