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Morikawa grabs early lead at storm-hit PGA Memorial

Collin Morikawa, final 12 months’s PGA Championship winner, fired a six-under par 66 to grab the early first-round lead Thursday at the US PGA Memorial match earlier than thunderstorms halted play.

The 24-year-old American, who shared eighth final month at Kiawah Island in defending his stunning main crown, fired seven birdies towards a lone bogey to seize a one-stroke lead when competitors was halted for lightning at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.

Morikawa, who started on the again 9, birdied the par-3 twelfth and adopted with back-to-back birdies at 14 and the par-5 fifteenth earlier than stumbling with a bogey at the 18th.

He responded with birdies on the primary three holes and one other at the par-5 fifth, then closed with 4 pars to face one stroke in entrance of compatriot Adam Long.

Morikawa, who gained a Covid-19 alternative occasion at Muirfield Village final 12 months the week earlier than the Memorial, took benefit of the rain-softened course.

“It was definitely the rain,” he mentioned. “The greens were soft enough and they’re receptive. But you have to hit the fairway. Out here, wet rough, it’s not going to help when the rough is pretty long.”

A pack on 68 included Canada’s Nick Taylor, Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello and Americans Xander Schauffele and Bo Hoag.

The final two threesomes had but to tee off after two thunderstorms halted the opening spherical, the primary lasting slightly below two hours.

American Matt Kuchar withdrew with a left forearm damage whereas Australian Jason Day pulled out earlier than the spherical started with a again damage.

Morikawa was joyful to see spectators after profitable final 12 months once they have been banned.

“It’s so good to see people,” mentioned Morikawa. “Since fans have been coming back, like they’re the life, they kind of bring all the energy. It’s great to see when you hit a good shot and they clap and you can see their excitement, because it makes you just want to go make that putt even more.”

– ‘It suits my eye’ –

Having a course the place he enjoys attacking helps as nicely.

“It fits my eye off the tee,” Morikawa mentioned. “I feel like I’m hitting kind of a lot of 9-irons, 8-irons and 7-irons and that’s kind of what I’ve based my game on the past couple years. When I’m able to put those irons in my hands I feel like I can attack pins, I can be smart and give myself maybe some closer birdies than other guys.

“We rolled in a number of right now and simply obtained to maintain that up.”

Morikawa changed the grip on his putter for this week but kept the same blade he used to win at Muirfield Village last year after trying changes earlier this season.

“Overall, it is a putter that I’ve used earlier than, I really feel comfy with,” he said. “I simply wished to return to a blade as a result of I’ve putted with a blade my whole life.

“Why not just go back and figure out the things that I’ve been working on and forget about the stroke, forget about the putter, just try and make the putt.”


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