LAS VEGAS – Collin Morikawa wasn’t about to let Xander Schauffele have all the fun, even if it went somewhat unnoticed.
After a relatively benign opening 1-under 71 on Thursday, Morikawa slotted seven birdies in a bogey-free 7-under 65 in the second round of THE CJ CUP @ SHADOW CREEK to find his way into a tie for fifth.
Amazingly it was a round that went a little under the radar as he was paired with Schauffele who set the course alight early and ultimately went one better with a 64.
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Schauffele birdied seven of his opening nine holes to shoot 29 on the back side and added one more birdie on the front to move to 14 under and three shots clear at the top of the leaderboard.
But while he has set up a substantial and impressive lead, Morikawa’s effort ensured Schauffele won’t be able to take his foot off the gas on the weekend.
The 23-year-old flashed one of his now trademark cheeky grins when he was met with a question about Schauffele’s birdie blitz, reminding those in attendance that he also had gone low and so to had the third member of the threesome in Viktor Hovland (66).
“It wasn’t just him. Viktor was making a bunch of birdies in that stretch, I had a couple myself. It’s enjoyable,” he quipped. “When you have momentum like that, you just want to keep it going, you don’t want to kind of stall out mid round.
“All of us just kept making birdies… I knew it wasn’t going to stop. I knew there was birdie chances on the front nine and we just had to keep it going. As long as I kept giving myself good looks, hitting the fairway, I knew a few would drop by 18.”
Morikawa credited the blemish free round to a new putter he’s using this week. He’s made a switch to a mallet style from the blade type he used to win the Workday Charity Open and PGA Championship last season.
He needed 28 putts on Thursday and just 26 Friday and has gained 1.545 shots over the field on the greens to go with his usual ball-striking clinic. His approach game has yielded 4.077 strokes against the field so far.
“I had a long neck in the blade and the way it was stroking from lag putts, it was never consistent, like the ball didn’t roll as well,” he said.
“If you look at the best putters, obviously their putts roll really well and their speed’s really consistent. The blade, when I found it outside 30 feet, some I’d hit past and then I’d adjust and then the next one it would be maybe six feet short. I was just looking for something to roll a lot cleaner through the putt.”
Source: PGA tour