ANDOVER, Kan. — Collin Morikawa from La
Cañada Flintridge, Calif., had a split-second loss
of focus Wednesday at the 112th Trans-
Mississippi Championship and because of it
there’s a three-way tie for the lead headed into
Thursday’s 36-hole finale.
An incoming freshman at California-Berkley,
Morikawa is tied at 6-under-par 134 with his
college teammate KK Limbhasut and John
Flaherty from Glastonbury, Conn. Jin Cheng from
Bejing, China, Philip Barbaree from Shreveport,
La., and Andrew Presley from Fort Worth, Texas,
are one shot back at 5-under 135 and share
Morikawa played brilliantly through 17 and a half
holes on a mild day with perfect scoring
conditions at Flint Hills National Golf Club. A
thoughtful golfer who keeps his head down and
favors conservative lines, Morikawa put on a
clinic: fairways, greens, putts that found the
heart of the cup with perfect pace over and
At one point he was 8-under through 12 holes,
on pace to threaten the course record and a
possible 59. An unfortunate bogey on the 229-
yard, par-3 fourth hole – Morikawa’s 13th, as he
started on No. 10 – halted the torrid pace, but
he got the shot back quickly with another birdie
on his 16th hole.
A rare loose swing with a short iron caused
Morikawa to miss the green on his final hole, the
488-yard, par-4 ninth hole. He proceeded to
feather a nifty chip to the top of a ridge on the
green, which funneled his ball to five feet from
the hole. Instead running it the short par putt for
an 8-under 62 and two-shot outright lead, he
three-putted and took double-bogey.
Regardless, Morikawa’s 6-under 64 was good
enough to set the competitive course record at
Flint Hills National, which has hosted two USGA
“I just lost focus there on the last hole,” he said.
“I rushed and wanted to get in. It’s a good lesson
for tomorrow. I’ll wipe that off and get ready for
36 holes tomorrow.”
Indeed, the 72-hole Trans-Miss Championship
culminates with a 36-hole final day, contested
over two rounds. Fifty-six players made the 36-
hole cut at 3-over 143.
Limbhasut, a Cal-Berkley sophomore, grew up in
Berkley about an hour from Morikawa. The two
played junior golf with and against each other,
and Limbhasut helped recruit Morikawa.
Limbhasut played nearly as dazzlingly as his
buddy, posting a 5-under 65. He made six
birdies, none longer than 15 feet.
“I only missed two fairways and one green,” he
said. “I was hitting it pretty close, too. These
greens are really receptive.”
Flaherty equaled Limbhasut’s 5-under 65 to earn
his piece of the lead. A senior at the University
of Connecticut, he went out in the morning wave
and struggled early.
“I was grinding through the first six holes,” he
said. “I only hit two greens. On my seventh hole,
I thought I holed it from the fairway, but I hit it
to a foot and a half.”
The tap-in birdie sparked something in Flaherty.
He went bogey-free from there and poured in
five birdies, including a 35-foot bonus on the
“The greens are rolling great,” Flaherty said. “I
just pick a spot about halfway between my ball
and hole and try to roll it over that spot.”
Twenty-five players are within five shots of the
leaders. Without the rain and winds players saw
Tuesday, Flint Hills National was imminently
more playable in the second round. Only 10
players broke par in the first round; 49 posted
red numbers Wednesday. The course played
about three shots easier overall for the elite,
144-player field; the stroke average in the
second round was 70.99.
“This set up is really great,” said Toledo senior
Otto Black, who is tied for ninth place at 3-under
137. “Usually you get one funky hole out there,
but not here. This is a well-designed course. The
hole locations were difficult but very fair.”
Carved expertly from fertile Kansas farmland by
Tom Fazio, Flint Hills National opened in 1997.
It’s already hosted two USGA championships: the
2001 U.S. Women’s Amateur and 2007 U.S.
Senior Amateur. A third national championship
will be contested on the 6,912-yard, par-70
course when the U.S. Junior Amateur arrives in
This 112th version is the third Trans-Miss
Championship to be played at Flint Hills. It also
came to the sublime venue just minutes outside
of Wichita, Kan., in 2003 and 2009.
The third round begins Thursday at 7:30 a.m.
ABOUT THE Trans-Miss Championship
The Trans-Miss is one of the oldest and
most storied golf tournaments in the United
For 106 years the championship
was played in a match play format.
Past champions include Jack Nicklaus (1958
and 1959), Charles Coe (1947, 1949, 1952 and
1956), Deane Beman (1960), George Archer
(1963), Ben Crenshaw (1972), Gary Koch
(1973), Bob Tway (1978), Mark Brooks (1978)
and other professional tour notables. In
1987 the championship was changed to a mid-
amateur age requirement, and a senior division
was also added. Starting in 2010, the Trans-
Mississippi Championship, returned to its roots
open amateur tournament, and immediately
established itself as a "must-play" among
top collegiate and mid-am players, while
a 72-hole stroke play format. The field size
144 players from Trans-
Mississippi Golf Association member clubs (or
players receiving a special invitation from the
Championship Committee). After 36 holes, a cut
made to the low 54 and ties who play the final
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