Winning the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP in Japan was special for American Collin Morikawa, whose great-grandparents emigrated from the country.
But more important was a victory — anywhere — after a 27-month winless drought on the PGA TOUR.
He broke through Sunday with a 7-under 63 for a six-shot victory to win the ZOZO at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club just outside Tokyo.
“It feels so good, I can’t even explain it,” Morikawa said. “I knew I was going to get here at some point. It’s like getting your first win, your first major.”
He said he realized that people were asking questions why he had not won. He said the victory was extra special since his wife Katherine Zhu was in the gallery and kissed him when he came off No. 18.
“I had to really look back and ask myself what’s wrong,” he said. “What’s the reasoning behind finishing second — that versus a win. This win means the world. Being in Japan and being half Japanese. A lot has come through over the past week.”
Americans Beau Hossler and Eric Cole were in second, six back with closing-round 70s.
Morikawa started two shots behind 54-hole leader Justin Suh, who faded looking for his first PGA TOUR win. He finished with a 74.
Morikawa had four birdies on the front nine, consistently hit fairways, which he didn’t in the second and third round, and kept pulling away with three more on the back nine, including one from 10 feet on the 18th.
Morikawa has been one of golf’s most-watched players — one of the game’s best iron players — so even though he’s had several chances to win recently, not getting it done has drawn some attention.
His last PGA TOUR title was The Open Championship in 2021 — he also won the PGA Championship in 2020 — and followed it a few months later by becoming the first American to finish as the DP World Tour’s No. 1 player, taking the DP World Tour Championship.
The only disappointment in 2021 was losing out in a playoff for a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Fellow American Justin Suh had a one-stroke lead after 54 holes on Sunday, looking to claim his first PGA TOUR win. A former college star like Morikawa, Suh struggled in Round 4 and shot 74.
Morikawa knows the pressures of a 54-hole lead.
In January, he had a six-stroke, 54-hole lead after The Sentry, but wound up finishing second to Jon Rahm after a string of bogeys over the last several holes.
Morikawa, Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele were playing their first event after the Ryder Cup three weeks ago near Rome, Italy.