He may have tamed the course at the PGA Championship but Collin Morikawa appeared none the wiser to a hidden guest as he took a shot on the 15th.
On a normal day, a 15th hole chip in from 2020 PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa wouldn’t usually make news, but the 24-year-old had a special spectator at Sunday’s event.
Playing in the RBC Championship, Morikawa was playing in the final group but had fallen well off the pace.
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But at the 15th, although he had fallen back to -11 in equal share of eighth, Morikawa had to chip in from close to the water — right in front of a sign that said “Please do not feed or disturb the alligators”.
The coverage showed that a matter of metres behind him was an alligator with his eye just out of the water.
The RBC Heritage was played at Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina, with the alligators’ natural habitat stretching from North Carolina down to the Rio Grande in Texas.
Alligator attack deaths aren’t too common in the states with just eight reported in the last decade but they are power animals that probably deserve a wide berth.
“This would have me a little twitchy,” one commentator said.
Another added: “I wouldn’t be standing there right now. As soon as I hit the ball I’m outta there.”
His shot went past the hole, with the commentator punning “it needed a little more bite”.
Morikawa finished in a tie for seventh at -12, well behind 47-year-old American Stewart Cink, who won the title by four strokes at the $7.1m event.
47-year-old show young gun how it’s done
Cink, 47, came into the final round with a five-stroke lead and his two birdies and one bogey were more than enough.
Cink had ended an 11-year title drought with his win in the Safeway Open in September — a dry spell that stretched back to his 2009 British Open triumph.
As in his victory last autumn, Cink had son, Reagan, as his caddie, but he said the presence of wife, Lisa, and his son Connor made Sunday’s victory even more special.
“It just keeps getting better,” said Cink, who set 36-hole and 54-hole tournament scoring records on the way to his third career title at Harbour Town. The first two came back in 2000 and 2004.
“Winning with Reagan caddying back in the fall was amazing, but Connor couldn’t be there,” Cink said. “Today he just flew in, changed his flight from Wyoming to be here just for this, and there’s no way I was going to not win with him coming all the way down here.
“It was just so great to have the whole family here. It means so much to me. It’s just a really — a blast this week. I just can’t explain it.”
Morikawa, who is gearing up for the defence of his PGA Championship title next month, had
a birdie at the first, before bogeying the second and fourth.
“Obviously shooting one-over in the final round is not going to do it,” Morikawa said.
“To see how much he (Cink) loves the game still and to see him and his son Reagan just enjoy it together, that’s what’s really cool.”
— with AFP