Morikawa wins 96th Western Junior by five
Collin Morikawa, of La Canada Flintridge, Calif., posted scores of 69 or better in all four rounds to claim a five-stroke victory in the 96th Western Junior at Meridian Hills Country Club.
Morikawa fired a 4-under-par 67 Friday to finish the championship at 13-under-par 271, the lowest 72-hole total since Hunter Mahan won the 1999 Western Junior with a 266 total at Treetops Sylvan Resort in Michigan.
"It was my first time ever in the Western Junior Championship, and it's amazing to come out here and win," Morikawa said. "I think I played amazing golf. I played solid throughout the whole week and minimized my errors, which is something I try to do at all of my tournaments."
Morikawa started the day with eight consecutive pars, but a string of four straight birdies, beginning at the 500-yard, par-5 ninth, all but sealed his Western Junior win.
"I've never had a lead this big in a tournament this big, but you just calm yourself down and you just play golf," Morikawa said. "Those four birdies in a row just shot something into me. I just played consistent throughout and only had one bogey on the day. It was nice."
As if his four birdies in a row down the stretch weren't enough, Morikawa sank a 25-foot birdie putt on the 454-yard, par 4 18th – his 72nd and final hole of the championship – for a perfect ending to a perfect week.
"I don't know really, it just went blank there," Morikawa said. "There was just so much happening at one time, but it feels great."
The win was Morikawa's first of his career on the national stage. His best previous efforts were a pair of third-place finishes at two AJGA events, the 2012 AJGA Junior at Ruby Hill and the 2012 AJGA Junior at Robinson Ranch. Next on Morikawa's agenda is a U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifier in Oceanside, Calif., at El Camino Country Club next Monday.
Finishing in second place was Dylan Meyer of Evansville, Ind., at 8-under-par 276. The third place finisher, Zachary Olsen of Cordova, Tenn., shot a final-round 66 for a tournament total of 6-under-par 278. Alone in fourth was Sam Burs of Shreveport, La., who wrapped up the tournament at 4-under-par 280.
Zecheng Dou of Beijing, Jonah Texeira of Woodland Hills, Calif., Andy Zhang of Reunion, Fla., and Theo Humphrey of Greenwich, Conn., all tied for fifth at 3-under-par 281.
The Western Junior is a 72-hole stroke play event conducted annually since 1914 by the Western Golf Association. This tournament field consists of 156 top-ranked national and international junior golfers ages 15-19.
(This story is a release from the Western Golf Association.)