Major championship golf is a pressure cooker made to test those with the faintest hint of doubt.
Many might have expected Collin Morikawa, experiencing his first major Sunday in contention, to fade away early at last weekend’s PGA Championship.
Even if he dropped a few late shots, it still would have capped off a formidable weekend for a 23-year-old who only turned professional 15 months ago.
Instead, the American broke away from a crowded leaderboard at TPC Harding Park, where nine players shared the lead at one point during the final round.
Key for the Californian was an eagle on the 16th, where his drive on the short par-4 landed within seven feet of the hole and put him out front for good.
Now, after winning in only his second major start, the dazzling world number five has officially joined the ranks of golf’s elite.
Morikawa’s victory in San Francisco included the lowest score for the final 36 holes in major championship history (129).
He joined legends like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy as the only 23-year-olds to lift the PGA Championship. A stunning achievement.
With three wins in 27 professional starts, Morikawa carries himself with a poise and maturity rarely seen in a young player.
In college golf, the Berkeley alumni was considered to have the potential to be a future major champion. However, nobody could have predicted his rise to come so quickly.
He has only missed one cut on the PGA Tour since June 9, 2019, impressive considering he is playing some of these courses for the first time as a pro.
Morikawa almost won on his third Tour start at the 3M Open last July and went on to clinch victory on his sixth start at the Barracuda Championship later that month.
His maiden major triumph last weekend at the PGA Championship is a testament to his maturity, composure and the completion of his game.
The Las Vegas resident might be ranked outside the top-100 in distance off the tee (295.9 yards). But for all the talk of power in the game today, perhaps his recent performances show that precision still matters in the game.
He is a strong iron player and his putting has improved, leading the field in putting during his crowning moment at TPC Harding Park.
Nobody has played better than Morikawa since the Tour returned to action at the start of June.
A major in the bank now at such a tender age will come with pressure and expectation going forward.
With a neat game at his disposal, constant maintenance, improvements and a bit of luck along the way can only propel him to greater heights in the future.
For all the skills and mental toughness needed on the big stage, the calm American possesses that hunger and selfishness to prevail without contaminating the mindset.
While youth is still on his side, the sizzling Morikawa has too much potential and class to not be a one-major wonder.
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