La Cañada High golfer Collin Morikawa falls short of state

PASADENA — What had been a long, tough round for Collin Morikawa got a big shot of hope on the La Cañada High boys' golfer's final hole Thursday.

Coming into his final hole at two-over par at the CIF/Southern California Golf Assn. Qualifying Tournament, the Spartans sophomore gave himself hope of advancing to the CIF State Golf Championship, as he closed his day with an eagle.

“I knew I had to at least birdie at the worst,” Morikawa said of his eagle. “I sort of knew what the break was going to be, so I just gave it a good stroke and made sure I didn't leave it short.”

With an even-par 72 in hand, all Morikawa could do was wait, as he was one of the first golfers off Brookside Golf Course No. 1 and waited to see if he’d make the top-nine cut for state, which will take place June 5 at the Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club in Carmel. But Morikawa didn’t make the cut.

Morikawa ended in a three-way tie for 19th place and fell one stroke shy of entering what would have been an eight-way playoff for one of the final four state berths.

While it was a disappointing ending to Morikawa’s season, he’ll have two more shots at making state in his high school career. He’s already ahead of the game when it comes to La Cañada golf.

Some of the finest golfers the school has ever seen — David Lipsky, who played at Northwestern and now competes professionally on the Asian tour; Anton Arboleda, who’s now playing at UCLA, and Jay Lim, who now plays for UC San Diego — failed to qualify for state after reaching the qualify tournament as seniors.

“He's only a sophomore, I don't think I've had a sophomore get this far,” La Cañada Coach Richard Tetu said of Morikawa. “Tee to green he played beautifully. I think he missed half a dozen birdie putts under 15 feet and it's just one shot that he needed.”

Morikawa, who had four bogeys, agreed that it was his putter that held him back on a course he’s very familiar with.

“It was tough, a long day for me,” he said. “Nothing really went my way until that last hole, but I hung in there. I know I can go low, it's just you can’t always have a good day and this isn't one of them.

“I didn't get the speed or lines on any of the putts. I'm just not stroking it the best right now.”

While Morikawa felt he had an edge at Brookside — a hometown course he’s played at a number of time before — he ultimately couldn’t capitalize on it.

“There's a little advantage, but we all have to hit our shots,” Morikawa said. “It's not a hard course … I just didn't hit my shots, so that little advantage went away.”

The sophomore started the day with a bogey at 17, his second hole of the day. He bounced back and birdied at No. 1, but then bogeyed again at No. 2. He also shot one over at the fifth hole and birdied No. 6 before bogeying again at 14.

“I thought it was his day, he hung in there but it was so frustrating,” Tetu said. “He made the eagle on the last hole to give himself a chance and that shows a lot of character.”

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