ANDOVER, Kan. – Collin Morikawa from La Cañada Flintridge, Calif., played a scintillating brand of golf in runaway, seven-shot victory over Philip Barbaree from Shreveport, La., on Thursday at the 112th Trans-Mississippi Championship, played over 72 holes at the enchanting Flint Hills National Golf Club.
It was a taste of sweet revenge for the 18-year-old Morikawa, who two weeks ago at the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions in Sunriver, Ore., watched Barbaree peel away from the pack for a 14-shot victory in one of that tour’s most prominent events. Morikawa finished fourth there, a distant 18 strokes behind Barbaree, who set an AJGA scoring record.
“I might have been thinking about that a tad, but not really,” said Morikawa, who posted 18-under-par 262 to win the Trans-Miss Championship in a romp. “Philip is a great player and a great competitor. It’s always fun playing with him. I guess I felt like he did two weeks ago seeing all those putts go in.”
The putts fell in bunches for Morikawa, who began his week Tuesday morning with an even-par 70 played in a downpour. Once the skies cleared, Morikawa hit the afterburners and turned Flint Hills National into his personal playground with rounds of 64-64-64. In Thursday’s 36-hole finale he carded 14 birdies against just two bogeys.
At one point in the second round, Morikawa, an incoming freshman at California-Berkeley, had picked apart Flint Hills National to the tune of 8-under through 12 holes, on pace to shoot golf’s immortal score of 59. It wasn’t to be, however, after a late bogey and a three-putt from 5 feet on the 18th hole that turned what could have been an 8-under 62 into his first 64 of the week.
That score, incidentally, set the competitive course record at Flint Hills National, a sublime Tom Fazio design that hosted the 2001 U.S. Women’s Amateur and 2007 U.S. Senior Amateur.
Barbaree, a 17-year-old junior at Shreveport’s Byrd High School, took runner-up honors at 11-under 269. He shot 68-66 in the final two rounds.
“I guess Collin wanted to give it back to me after the Rolex,” Barbaree said. “I’m happy for him, but it was a good week for me, too.”
After a Barbaree birdie on the fourth hole and a Morikawa bogey on the sixth, Barbaree got the closest of anyone to the lead on the final day. At that moment, Barbaree was within five strokes of the lead. But that’s when Morikawa stepped on the gas again with birdies on the seventh and eighth holes to stretch out ahead.
“Putting has been holding me back for so many years, but it was nice to see the putts go in this week,” Morikawa said. “Everything kind of came together for me these past three days. It’s some of the best golf I’ve ever played.”
KK Limbhasut, who is Morikawa’s teammate at Cal-Berkeley, took third place at 9-under 271. Fort Worth’s Andrew Presley claimed fourth place at 8-under 272.
Grady Brame from Hammond, La., made an impressive run in the final round with a front nine 29 that featured seven birdies. Brame got to 7-under overall before a bogey on No. 12 halted his momentum. He ultimately finished in a tie for fifth place at 5-under 275 with Max McGreevy from Edmond, Okla., and Rylee Reinerston from Gibbon, Neb.
The top 30 finishers earned exemptions into the 2016 Trans-Miss Championship, to be played next July at famed Olympic Club in San Francisco. Sam Johnston from Edmond, Okla., was the low mid-amateur with a total score of 2-under 278. He finished in a tie for 12th place.
Winning big golf tournaments by wide margins is nothing new for Morikawa. In March he won a prestigious high school event called the Champions Invitational by 14 shots, setting a tournament scoring record along way with 19-under 197 for 54 holes. It’s the same event won in 2014 by last year’s Trans-Miss Championship winner Will Zalatoris, who outraced the field by 11 shots the year prior.
Morikawa in 2013 also won the Western Junior by five shots, posting all four rounds in the 60s. As a junior at La Cañada High School, Morikawa was voted All-Area Boys Golfer of the Year, the first underclassman to do so in six years. He won medalist honors in 11 matches and led his team to league title.
One of Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses, Flint Hills National was the vision of local businessman Tom Devlin, who as a 25 year old in 1973 co-founded Rent-A-Center and built the company into the country’s largest rent-to-own business. A longtime Trans-Miss Golf Association Director, Devlin said the club was his gift back to the Wichita community that embraced him so warmly throughout his years.
One of the premier championship tracks in the U.S., Flint Hills National’s devotion to amateur golf – particularly the high-level competitive variety such as the Trans-Miss Championship – underscores Devlin’s original vision.
“Tom has made a huge commitment to amateur golf, and so has the club,” club General Manager Bobby Conner said. “Our motto around here is ‘Respect the Game,’ and I think amateur golf respects the game. That’s what Flint Hills National is all about.”
In addition to the pair of USGA national championship contested on the picturesque course, Flint Hills National has twice before opened its doors for Trans-Miss Championships in 2003 and 2009. In 2017, the course will provide the thorough examination to identify the country’s best young golfer at the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.
The Trans-Miss Golf Association extends its sincerest gratitude to Flint Hills National, its staff, members and all the volunteers who helped make the 112th Trans-Miss Championship such a memorable event.
About the Trans-Mississippi Golf Association
The Trans-Mississippi Golf Association is one of the oldest and most prestigious golf organizations in the United States. Established in 1901, the Trans-Mississippi is composed of over 200 member clubs located throughout the country. The Association is governed by a board of independent directors and is headquartered in Dallas, TX.
4475 Trinity Mills Road, Suite #702526
Dallas, TX 75287