(Cal Athletics Photo)
WICHITA, KN (June 26, 2016) -- Playing in his first professional event, the Web.com Tour’s Air Capital Classic presented by Aetna, Collin Morikawa
made the most of the opportunity. During Sunday's final round at Crestview Country Club, Morikawa fired his second consecutive 7-under 63 to finish 17-under, before eventually losing in a three-way playoff.
Heading to the final hole, Morikawa, the 3rd ranked amateur in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com Rankings, was one down and in need of a birdie to tie for the lead. Following his approach shot, Morikawa left himself with a 27-feet for birdie, which he drained.
“The 27-foot birdie putt on 18 will be a moment I will never forget,” Morikawa said following the round. “It was center cup the entire way. My game wasn’t as tuned today as the third round, but I was able to make a lot of birdies down the stretch. With five holes to go, and being four off the lead at that point, I knew I had to do something special if I wanted any chance at winning.”
After the birdie Morikawa joined clubhouse leader J.J. Spaun as they awaited the remaining action on the course. A short time later it was determined that Ollie Schniederjans would make it a three-way playoff.
All three players replayed the 18th hole and they all carded pars. On the second swing through, Schniederjans converted an 18-foot birdie attempt to win the tournament.
It was a minor miracle that last week's Sunnehanna Amateur winner was even in the playoff on Sunday. Morikawa was just 3-under after two rounds and barely made the cut after being tied for 63rd.
Morikawa made his big final round move on the homeward nine, after turning in 2-under 33. On the 11th Morikawa rolled in a birdie, but gave it back with his only bogey of the day on the 13th. At this point, the Cal Bear star was only 2-under for the day with only five holes remaining.
Things for Morikawa got jump started on the par-5 14th with an eagle, the run continued with birdies on 15, 16 and of course the lengthy one on the 18th, that tied him for the lead. When all was said and done Morikawa played the final five holes in 5-under.
Had the 19-year-old been able to finish off the improbable victory, he would have become only the fourth amateur to ever win a Web.com event. The previous winners are Daniel Summerhays (2007), Russell Henley (2011) and Harris English (2011).
“This week was surreal,” continued Morikawa. “To go from barely making the cut on the number to getting into a playoff couldn’t have capped off the week much better.”
-California Athletics and PGA Tour.com contributed to this story