Collin Morikawa takes Masters form to Hilton Head bid.

April 21, 2024

Collin Morikawa bounced back from his final round disappointment at the Masters, shooting a six-under 65 first round at the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage tournament on Thursday.

J.T. Poston held the first round lead at Harbour Town Golf Links at Hilton Head in South Carolina after shooting an eight under-par 63.

Morikawa, who sat just a stroke behind eventual Masters winner Scottie Scheffler going into Sunday’s final round at Augusta, had finished tied for third after shooting a two-over 74.

But the Californian looked confident and in-form with the only blemish on his scorecard coming with a bogey on the par-4 11th hole.

“It was very solid. The one bogey made, didn’t even hit that bad of an approach shot, and I think it clipped the tree and somehow bounced 25 yards to the right,” said Morikawa.

“For the most part, it’s just a continuation and just trust of what I’ve been working on, especially kind of over this past week and a half.

“It’s a nice little groove to be in, and hopefully we can keep this going throughout the rest of this week.”

World No. 1 Scheffler had a shaky start to his round with a double bogey on the par-four third but recovered to card a two-under 69.

The now two-times Masters winner said it hadn’t been easy to get back into competition after all the excitement of the past week.

“I tried to give myself an extra little bit of grace, I would say, on the course today just because yeah, emotionally a little bit drained. Mentally definitely a bit drained,” Scheffler said.

“I feel like I had more energy now than I did at the beginning of the day waking up to go play golf, if that makes sense. I think getting into the tournament, hitting some shots, getting a bit frustrated, getting a bit excited about my finish there, all good emotions to feel. It’s nice to be kind of back into tournament mode.”

Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg, who finished runner-up to Scheffler at Augusta, continued his excellent form with his 66 leaving him three strokes behind Poston.

The 24-year-old made eagle on the par-5 fifth, hitting a superb two-iron approach before sinking an eight foot putt.

“My focus shifted right when I got here,” Aberg said.

“We were trying to make sure that last week was last week and this week was this week. But obviously last week is still something I look back on with a smile.”

Poston made an electric start to his round, making six birdies on the front nine and bouncing back after a bogey on the par-4 12th.

The 30-year-old from North Carolina, who is searching for a third career win on the PGA Tour, recently became a father and has his wife and daughter Scottie present, along with his mother, this week.

“It’s been great. It’s definitely an adjustment,” Poston said.

“My mum is here. She’s helping us out, too. So we’ve got plenty of help. We’re just kind of figuring it out.”

Poston said his putting had been the key to his low score.

“I felt like it was one of those days where if I could give myself a look, and I felt pretty confident in being able to make those putts, whether it was a close one or a 20 or 25-footer,” he said.

“It sort of freed up the tee to green a little bit I guess you could say.”

World No. 2 Rory McIlroy sits four strokes off Poston after making a four-under 67 with an eagle on the fifth.

Ireland’s Seamus Power was alongside Morikawa, two shots back of the lead, after posting a 65, while Australia’s Jason Day made a solid start with 68 in the first round.

Jason Day of Australia hits a tee shot on the sixth hole. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP
Jason Day of Australia hits a tee shot on the sixth hole. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP
Source: AFP
PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage Leaderboard after first round

63 — JT Poston

65 — Collin Morikawa, Seamus Power (IRL)

66 — Mackenzie Hughes (CAN), Sepp Straka (AUT), Patrick Rodgers, Sahith Theegala, Austin Eckroat, Ludvig Aberg (SWE)

67 — Rory McIlroy (NIR), Russell Henley, Patrick Cantlay, Tom Hoge, Cameron Young, Stephan Jäger (GER), Adam Hadwin (CAN)

68 — Jason Day (AUS), Thomas Detry (BEL), An Byeong-Hun (KOR), Kim Si-Woo (KOR), Im Sung-Jae (KOR), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA), Will Zalatoris, Taylor Moore, Chandler Phillips

69 — Lucas Glover, Chris Kirk, Brendon Todd, Brice Garnett, Scottie Scheffler, Denny McCarthy, Justin Thomas, Harris English, Joohyung Kim (KOR), Matthieu Pavon (FRA), Alejandro Tosti (ARG), Corey Conners (CAN)