Collin Morikawa lights up Tour Championship, shockingly atop FedEx Cup leaderboard with career-low round

Collin Morikawa lights up Tour Championship, shockingly atop FedEx Cup leaderboard with career-low round

ATLANTA — The weather at East Lake and Collin Morikawa had plenty in common on Thursday. Both were scorching hot.

The two-time major champion carded a 9-under par 61 to soar up the FedEx Cup leaderboard. It marks his career-low score on the PGA Tour as he now finds himself squarely in contention at the Tour Championship.

He is 10-under for the tournament, and since Scottie Scheffler began the day at 10-under thanks to the modified starting strokes format, Morikawa gained plenty of ground.

“It feels great,” Morikawa said of his round. “No better time than the Tour Championship to show up and start playing good golf. For the next three days, continue to control the golf ball, keep hitting it pin high, and giving myself chances.”

Morikawa had plenty of chances Thursday, which started right out of the gate.

He birdied the challenging par-4 1st, the second most difficult hole on the course.

Collin Morikawa, PGA Tour, Tour Championship

Collin Morikawa hits a tee shot during the first round of the 2023 Tour Championship.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Then, he got lucky at the par-4 5th. Whenever someone shoots a 61, breaks typically fall their way.

“I got a lucky break on five,” Morikawa said. “I pulled a drive left, hit a tree, ended up in a fairway, and made birdie. That’s kind of the momentum stuff that I just haven’t seen all year.”

Morikawa has not won this season despite ranking 11th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained.

Of course, that was on full display at the very next hole, the par-5 6th; his second shot there proved to be the highlight of the day.

The two-time major champion stuck it to four feet and made an eagle three.

“Six felt great,” Morikawa added.

“Look, I hit some great shots. Even the shot on the 15th is by no means an easy par-3. I think we can all agree on that. Immediately when I hit the tee shot, I didn’t even watch it because I knew where it was going to go, and that’s the kind of control you want.”

“Some days are going to be better than others, but it’s nice to know that that golf swing is just exactly where I want it.”

Collin Morikawa, PGA Tour, Tour Championship

Collin Morikawa during the first round of the 2023 Tour Championship
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Some days are indeed better than others, and for Morikawa, no round has been better for him on the PGA Tour.

“The way today felt, I wish I could go play another 18,” he joked.

He played bogey-free golf and blitzed East Lake all day. He even finished birdie-birdie-birdie to cap off his historic round.

Only Zach Johnson has carded a lower score at East Lake, which was a 10-under 60 back in 2007—the inaugural year of the FedEx Cup.

Nonetheless, Morikawa is now in contention for the FedEx Cup, and he is hitting the ball exactly how he wants to. That is a scary combo.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.

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