On Sunday at the WGC-Workday Championship, Collin Morikawa closed with 3-under-par 69 for a 72-hole total of 18-under 270 and a three-stroke victory over Viktor Hovland (67), Brooks Koepka (70) and Billy Horschel (70).
It was Morikawa’s fourth PGA Tour win in only 39 career starts. Coupled with his victory at last year’s PGA Championship, the 24-year old out of Cal-Berkeley joined Tiger Woods as the only players to win a major championship and WGC event before age 25.
Morikawa grew up idolizing Woods, a fellow Californian, and immediately after finishing off his win on Sunday, he told Steve Sands of Golf Channel, “Tiger means everything to me. I don’t think we say thank you enough, so I want to say thank you to Tiger because sometimes you lose people too early.”
Woods remains hospitalized after sustaining severe leg injuries in a rollover car accident last Tuesday in Los Angeles County, Calif. It was an emotional win for Morikawa, who also mentioned Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who died in January 2020, and his paternal grandfather, Toshio, who passed away a month ago.
“You don’t get to say thank you enough,” Morikawa said.
Players and fans honored Woods by wearing red shirts and black pants, Tiger’s iconic final-round outfit, as did many at the PGA Tour Champions’ Cologuard Classic in Tucson, Ariz., including Woods’ longtime rival Phil Mickelson, who normally wears all black on Sundays.
Mickelson, the former Arizona State star, joked he wore his signature black sweater over his new red shirt because it included the logo of his former in-state rival – the University of Arizona Wildcats, and he refused to “flash it.”
— Justin Spears (@JustinESports) February 28, 2021
“So obviously I don’t own a red shirt, and so two things happened today. I wore red on Sunday in honor of Tiger, to let him know that all the players really support him and appreciate all that he’s done,” said Mickelson.
“And I had to buy a red shirt and, of course, every red shirt here has a big “A” on it and I’m not going to flash it but it’s under here. It’s two things that I have never done I did today, and I hope he knows that we’re supporting him.”
Morikawa did not wear a red shirt on Sunday, although his clothing manufacturer shipped him one. He said inclement weather might have delayed the arrival, but he did wear black pants.
Runners-up Hovland and Horschel each honored Woods in their own way as well. Horschel had “TW” etched on his cap, while Hovland wore Woods’ signature Sunday script of black pants, hat and shoes, but opted for an orange shirt.
He joked, “Orange is a better color.”
Like Morikawa, the 23-year Hovland grew up idolizing Woods, and would spend hours watching highlights of the 15-time major winner on Youtube, even during class.
“Yeah. I remember just sitting in the classroom and we would have our computer up and I would just be on YouTube all day just watching his highlights,” said Hovland. “Yeah, it’s incredible. Hopefully he’s feeling better.”
Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kucher and Jason Day each played golf balls stamped with “Tiger.”
Day, Rory McIlroy, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Tommy Fleetwood, Scottie Scheffler, Carlos Ortiz, Sebastian Munoz and Cameron Champ were among those who wore black slacks and dark red shirts. Other shirts were of lighter red tones, including those worn by Justin Thomas and Cameron Smith.
“I don’t wear it as good as (Tiger) does, but it’ll be all right,” McIlroy said. “It’s just a gesture to let him know that we’re thinking about him and we’re rooting for him. Obviously, things are looking a little better than they were on Tuesday, but he’s still got a ways to go. He’s got a huge recovery ahead of him.”
“He was my idol,” explained Munoz. “He’s the reason I played golf today. It’s just a little tribute I wanted to pay to him, just how much his life and his work have impacted my life.”
“Just paying respect to Tiger,” said Day. “Obviously we hope for the best in wishing him a very quick recovery, just wanted him to know that we’re thinking about him.”
“I think it’s just important for him to feel some kind of support,” said Thomas, a close friend and frequent partner in Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup matches. “I think this shows support to him. It’s not something that’s going to happen every week, it’s not something that people are doing every day, but obviously Sunday’s a pretty special day for him and what he’s wearing and just seemed like a great chance that people had the opportunity to do it.”
“We’ve enjoyed so many Sundays watching Tiger do his thing,” Finau added. “Red and black, we know that’s what Tiger does on Sundays, so to just join in and just let Tiger know we’re supporting him in the best way we can. We’re still playing and we miss him out here, but it was cool just to be a part of that today.”
Annika Sorenstam – another close friend of Woods, who returned to the LPGA Tour (for one week) after an absence of more than 12 years, also wore red and black on Sunday, as did her husband and caddie Mike, and children Ava and Will, during the final round of the Gainbridge LPGA on their home course at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club in Orlando, Fla.
The tribute did not go unnoticed.
In a tweet from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Woods said, “It is hard to explain how touching today was when I turned on the tv and saw all the red shirts. To every golfer and every fan, you are truly helping me get through this tough time.”
It is hard to explain how touching today was when I turned on the tv and saw all the red shirts. To every golfer and every fan, you are truly helping me get through this tough time.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) March 1, 2021
Get through it quickly, Tiger. Want to see you back on the PGA Tour ASAP.