Morikawa shot one of them as we take a closer look at what he has accomplished in the first 18 holes and what is on deck for one of the most exciting players in the game today hui.
1. Collin Morikawa (-7) – What a spectacle of perhaps the best iron player in the world. It was not until his very last shot of the day that Morikawa made a bogey, but at that time his cushion was thick enough to always take a one-stroke lead in the second round. His name may not be super recognizable, but there is a lot to stay with him when entering the last 54 holes. This round also suggests that he was a bit exhausted two weeks ago when he missed his first cup as a pro at the travelers’ championship. The top five at the start and on its approach shots on Thursday – not to mention a top-25 putt – will be hard to beat for the rest of this pack. If it goes from thread to thread in this area, it is the status of immediate star with the status of superstar just around the corner.
2. Adam Hadwin (-6) – The Canadiens are probably better known for their short game than their green game, but the two worked well on Thursday. It also makes my bet “Corey Conners at +200 to be a weak Canadian” seem rather bad after 18 holes.
T3. Hideki Matsuyama, Zach Johnson, Nick Taylor, Aaron Wise (-5) – It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that Matsuyama played well on Thursday at Muirfield Village. He has had success on this course in the past and shot a 65 on the weekend at the Rocket Mortgage Classic a week ago. As always with Matsuyama, history is his putter. Thursday was Good Hideki, and he finished in the top 25 in putting. When this happens (and it doesn’t happen often!), It will be at the top or near the top of the leaderboard.
T7. Justin Thomas, Pat Perez, Louis Oosthuizen, Tim Wilkinson, Peter Malnati, Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed, Adam Long, Graeme McDowell (-4) – The best part of Thomas’ game is his iron game, and he is one of the few elite golf players today. He finished in the top 10 approach shots on Thursday and showed his skill on a course where you get a myriad of hanging lies, bullets under your feet and sloping shots in bushy greens. His putting was slightly above average, which is exactly where he needs to stay so he can compete this Sunday. Mission accomplished on day 1 for JT
T87. Phil Mickelson (+1) – It was a roller coaster for a day for Lefty in the first round. He had a putt for 31 out of the first nine and then went home in 40. So what changed? Well, especially his game of tee-to-green. He won six (!) More hits from green tee (largely with his iron game) on the first nine (who played a stroke more easily) than on the last nine. These are the two versions of Mickelson we will likely have to live with for most of the rest of his career. He gave us the full overview on Thursday.
T110. Brooks Koepka (+2) – The four-time major champion also rode on a roller coaster on Thursday, but it was the reverse of Mickelson’s race. Koepka went out in 41 (what ?!) and made three birdies at home to give himself a chance to make the cut on Friday. It has been inconsistent all year round, although it looked like it had turned around a bit at RBC Heritage a few weeks ago. A bad iron game sentenced him to Round 1, however, and the best living major player has question marks as he approaches the first major of the year.
Four other takeaways
• I mentioned it at the beginning, but I think the players probably feel a bit beaten by this course after the ease with which the first three weeks were played. A longer track, higher rough, and more elevation changes likely lead to better determination of who hits the ball best in a given week.
• Morikawa could have the best non-Rory McIlroy swing of the PGA Tour. He took some magnificent rips on Thursday, including a 3-wood in No. 15 which led to an almost eagle which was absolutely magnificent.
• Bubba Watson rolled a 9 and two 6. Ryan Palmer also rolled a 9 (on a par 3). Difficult day throughout the village of Muirfield for some of the best in the world.
• This exchange involving Jon Rahm was the best.
CBS Sports was with you throughout the process of updating this story with the latest scores, updates and highlights from the Workday Charity Open below. Check out the live scores at the top of this story or a more detailed ranking.