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Collin Morikawa is the first round leader at 2023 Zozo Championship

Collin Morikawa is the first round leader at 2023 Zozo Championship

Collin Morikawa isn’t the type to allow himself to think too far ahead but even he acknowledged that winning the Zozo Championship in Japan, the country where his father’s side of the family grew up, would hold a special place in his heart.

“There’s obviously a little bit more meaning to this tournament for me, but look, a win’s a win, I’ll take a win anywhere, right?” he said. “I’m doing everything I can the next three days and kind of tonight to make sure I give myself the best opportunity to do that.”

He’s off to a flying start, posting a bogey-free 6-under 64 on Thursday at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in the Chiba Prefecture of Japan. Morikawa, who started on the back nine, raced to three birdies in his first four holes and barely slowed down. He tacked on birdies at Nos. 16 and 17 and one more on his inward nine at the sixth. He drained an uphill 8-foot par putt at his last hole of the day to grab a one-stroke lead over five golfers.

Morikawa has won five times on the PGA Tour, including a pair of majors, at the precocious age of 26. But he’s also winless since the 2021 British Open and is anxious to get back into the winner’s circle. He blew a six-stroke 54-hole lead at the Sentry Championship in January and nearly won the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July, losing in a playoff to Rickie Fowler. In the last two seasons, he’s recorded 14 top-10 finishes, tied with Tommy Fleetwood for the most during that span without a win. Morikawa is making his first start during the FedEx Cup Fall and competing for the first time since the Ryder Cup.

“Taking a few weeks off, you never know what you’re going to get, but I’ve been kind of working on a few things trying to get control of the golf ball, spent a lot of time putting yesterday,” Morikawa said. “It’s nice to kind of see the work I’ve put in, just kind of recreate that on the golf course.”

Here are four more things to know from the first round of the Zozo Championship.

Mikumu Horikawa tees off on the second hole during the first round of the Zozo Championship golf tournament at Sherwood Country Club. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

Seeing the name Mikumu Horikawa on the leaderboard alongside Collin Morikawa had to be confusing for fans. It even threw Horikawa for a loop.

“When he looked at the leaderboard, first he thought he’s in first because the name is very like similar, Morikawa and Horikawa,” an interpreter for Horikawa…


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