The Punter

The Punter's De-brief: Meronk and Morikawa claim the spoils

Golfer Collin Morikawa
Collin Morikawa in action in Japan

Adrian Meronk has won the Andalucia Masters and Collin Morikawa the ZOZO Championship. Steve Rawlings looks back on their victories here...

Germany's Matti Schmid and Denmark's Jeff Winter began the final round of the Andalucia Masters tied at the top and two strokes clear of the remainder.

Trading at 3.412/5 and 3.613/5 respectively, they understandably dominated the market but there were legitimate reasons to belief they may feel the pressure.

The 200.0199/1 pre-event chance, Schmid, had no playing privileges for next season and he was in search of his first victory and 200.0199/1 poke, Winther, came into the event after a long run of poor form that had even had him considering giving up the game.

Winther, who was matched at a low of just 2.77/4, never really got going in round four and he was two-over par after just four holes, and with the defending champ, Adrian Otaegui, who had begun the day in solo third, also struggling, Schmid went odds-on after just four holes.

He dropped a shot at the fifth and he drifted from 1.758/11 all the way out to 4.03/1 before the turn but after a pair of birdies at 10 and 12 he was back to odds-on.

Pre-event 90.089/1 chance, Richard Mansell, hit a low of 2.56/4 on the back-nine but a missed birdie putt from six feet at 16 was followed by a dreadful three-putt bogey at 17 and after a slow start (two-over-par through three) it was Poland's Adrian Meronk that emerged as Schmid's big challenger late in the day.

The pre-event 25.024/1 chance, who was matched at as high as 400.0399/1, had sat tied for 55th and eight off the lead after round one, tied for 19th and five adrift at halfway, and having sat tied for fifth and only four back with a round to go, he was trailing Schmid by as many as seven after five holes of round four.

An eagle at the par five fifth saw Meronk start the comeback and his charge was boosted greatly by a hole-out eagle at the ninth.

That seemed to really energise the giant Pole and after birdies at 10, 12 and 14, having trailed by seven with just 14 to play, he was just one behind the leader.

Schmid, who hit a low of 1.528/15, was still in control with just three holes to play but everything changed all at once.

Moments after Meronk had drained his 10 foot birdie putt at the par three 17th, Schmid missed his par putt from inside six feet at 16 and it was a two stroke swing that the German just couldn't recover from.

Adrian Meronk in Ras Al Khaimah.jpg

It had taken Meronk 71 holes to get to the front and he wasn't about to relinquish it. A steady par four at the final hole maintained his advantage and Schmid could only par the 17th and 18th to lose by one.

It was tough on the German, who'd done very little wrong, but it was also fantastic to see Meronk win his third event of the season.

Universally considered extremely unfortunate not to get a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup last month, the 30-year-old will have wanted to prove that he should have been in Luke Donald's side in Rome (at a course he won at in May!) and after his back-to-back 66s over the weekend to get the job done, it was impossible not to be happy for the amiable Pole.

The Andalucia Masters had been a tight affair with an exciting finale, but it was a very different story on the PGA Tour, where Collin Morikawa won for the first time in almost two years...

Morikawa ends his drought in style

When Morikawa cruised to Open Championship glory at Royal St Georges two years ago, to bag his fifth PGA Tour title and his second major championship, less than a year after his first (the 2020 US PGA Championship), it was unimaginable that we'd have to wait more than two years for his sixth win on the PGA Tour.

Morikawa won the DP World Tour Championship four months after his Open win to crown a stelar year with the Race to Dubai title, but yesterday's impressive six-stroke victory at the ZOZO Championship is his first victory since and there's been plenty of trials and tribulations in-between...

Just a few weeks after his victory in Dubai, Morikawa entered the final round of the Hero Challenge in the Bahamas with a five-stroke lead but in the space of half an hour in round four he went from five clear to two behind courtesy of two double-bogeys.

Having been matched in running at just 1.081/12, he was eventually beaten by four and he was matched at even shorter at the Tournament of Champions in January this year!

Having led by six with a round to go at Kapalua, Morikawa was matched at a low of 1.021/50, and for 52k at 1.031/33 after he'd birdied the opening hole and three of his first six to stretch his advantage to seven, but after a charge by the eventual winner, Jon Rahm, and a run of seven straight pars, Morikawa bogeyed three in-a-row to toss another title in the bin.

In Morikawa's defence, the Spaniard shot a remarkable 10-under-par 63 to win by two but there was yet more pain to endure six months later when he was matched at a low of 1.584/7 in regulation play before losing a playoff at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

It's been a tough stretch for the 26-year-old, and nobody could begrudge him his runaway win in Japan, but it wasn't anywhere near as straightforward as the final leaderboard would suggest.

Having gone off at around 16.5, and having led after round one, Morikawa fell to tied eighth at halfway following a disappointing three-over-par 73 in round two and he was matched at a high of 60.059/1 when he began round three with a double-bogey at the opening hole and a bogey at the fourth.

He looked done and dusted but he finished round three nicely to trail by two with a round to go (trading at 4.804/1) before cruising to victory with a bogey-free seven-under-par 63.

It was a stylish way to end his drought and hopefully it will kickstart his career because he's far too good a player to go almost two years in-between wins.

The PGA Tour is taking a break this week so we've only got the Qatar Masters on the DP World Tour, which I've previewed here, to concentrate on.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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