July 28 (Reuters) – Rookie Collin Morikawa birdied his final three holes and tallied 14 final round points to claim his first tour win at the Barracuda Championship in Reno on Sunday.
Morikawa, who began the day four points behind, caught fire in the final stretch and surged past challenger Troy Merritt to notch a winning score of 47 points at the event played under the modified Stableford format.
Merritt had an eagle chip on the last that could have won it for him but could not convert it. He finished at 44 points.
The format, designed to reward aggressive play, gives eight points for an albatross, five for eagle, two for birdie, zero for par and subtracts a point for bogey and three for double-bogeys or worse.
Merritt, who was the third round leader, birdied the par-four 15th hole to move into the lead by a point but could not keep pace with the scorching Morikawa and parred his final three holes.
“Once I got to 16 I hit a really good shot, so I just believed in myself,” Morikawa said. “I was able to hit some really good shots and come through.”
Morikawa, 22, has enjoyed great success since turning professional in June. He nearly won the 3M Open earlier this month but Matthew Wolff birdied the 72nd hole to beat him.
“I think the gates are open,” Morikawa said following the win. “I’ve been knocking on the door the last month or so. It was something really special to finally get the win.”
John Chin and Robert Streb finished in a tie for third at 40 points.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner; Editing by Ian Ransom)