ATLANTA – If two-time major champion Collin Morikawa trying to make one last impression on the US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson At this week’s Tour Championship, he made a big first move in Thursday’s opening round at East Lake Golf Club.
Morikawa is among a handful of players being considered for Johnson’s selection of the six captains to be announced on Tuesday. He posted a 9-under-61 with seven birdies and an eagle to secure a portion of the 18-hole lead at 10-under in the relay game judging format.
Another US Ryder Cup hopeful, Keegan Bradley, posted a 7-under 63, putting him at 10-under. norway Victor Hovlandwho won the BMW Championship near Chicago last week also had a share of the first round lead with a 2-under-68 result over 18 holes.
There were nine players within three shots of the leaders, the most over 18 holes at the Tour Championship since the starting shot format was introduced in 2019.
Scheffler started the day two shots ahead of the rest of the field after earning the most FedEx Cup points this season. After starting the day 10-under, Scheffler had birdies on three of his first six holes, extending a five-shot lead.
But then Scheffler carded bogeys on numbers 8, 11 and 12. He hit a triple bogey 6 on the par-3 15th after hitting his tee shot in the water. He missed a 3½ foot putt for a double bogey. It was Scheffler’s first triple bogey on a par 3 of the season; According to a study by ESPN Stats & Information, he has played more than 800 par 3s.
Scheffler lost 2,833 strokes on the field, his worst round of the season, and lost 3,229 on putting. He needed 33 putts.
“Of course I’m quite frustrated with how I played today,” said Scheffler. “I got off to a pretty good start and then I had a couple of three-putts today, which is definitely frustrating. Then I had the bad swing there on the par 3, 15.”
It was the second straight round of disappointment for Scheffler at East Lake. After starting the 2022 Tour Championship as the No. 1 seed, he took a 6-shot lead Rory McIlroy And Xander Schauffele into the final round. Scheffler only managed 3 over 73s over the last 18 holes, losing to McIlroy by one shot.
McIlroy made a strong showing on Tuesday and fought his way through the opening round on Thursday. He was even on par for the first 18 holes and finished seventh overall with 7 under.
Morikawa came within one shot of matching Johnson’s East Lake course record of 10-under 60 in the third round of the 2007 Tour Championship Tiger Woods won by 8 strokes. It was the lowest round of Morikawa’s PGA Tour career.
“It feels great,” Morikawa said. “Shoot, there’s no better time I guess [than] Join our tour championship to come over and start playing golf. But I really think for the next three days I’m going to just be able to keep the ball in control, keep hitting it up and create chances.”
Morikawa led the field in strokes won: approaching the green (3.704) and strokes won: total (7.167).
After about 12 or 13 holes Thursday, Morikawa joked to his caddy Jonathan “JJ” Jakovac that he hadn’t thrown up that many shots in four rounds of a tournament in quite a while.
“It’s been another frustrating year of ups and downs, however [Jakovac] “I looked at myself on Sunday last week and just said, ‘Look, let’s just go and have fun,'” Morikawa said. “It’s not easy to make it here.” I can’t take for granted that I’m here again. I had to grind my butt to get back here, play well in the playoffs, [and] have a few degrees. It is not easy. There’s a reason only 30 people can do it.
It’s been a trying few seasons for Morikawa, who hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since winning his second Major at the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, England, in July 2021. Morikawa finished 24th in the FedEx Cup standings, dropping to 20th in the world rankings.
The five-time PGA Tour winner finished 10th in Ryder Cup points; The top six automatically qualified for the team. Along with Bradley and Morikawa, the star of the LIV Golf League Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Cameron Young, Sam Burns, Ricky Fowler, JustinThomas And Lucas Glover are likely to be considered.
Burns had birdies on two of his last four holes, posting a 4-under 66 in the first round. Fowler (2-under) and Spieth (1-under) also underperformed in the first round, while Glover posted a 2-over 72.
Morikawa won 3-0-1 as a Ryder Cup rookie at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin in September 2021, earning 3½ points for the Americans. He said he hasn’t spoken to Johnson about the Ryder Cup team since the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit in early July.
“Look, I had two years to finish in the top six and we didn’t make it,” Morikawa said. “That’s the way it is. I was still grinning there. We’re still roughly in the zone where we can hopefully pick a captain. Hopefully my record speaks for itself. Hopefully the sport of golf speaks for itself today.”
“I feel good and at the end of the day I want to win this tournament. I really do. It’s been too long I want to find a way to win. Today definitely helped with that.”