Collin Morikawa in the hunt at the PGA Championship

Tied for 4th through 54 holes on a star-studded leaderboard

In professional golf, the third round of a tournament is often called “moving day.” In Saturday’s third round of the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, Collin Morikawa made sure he was one of the players who did the moving up the leaderboard.

The 2019 Cal grad shot a 5-under 65, tied for the lowest round of the day, to climb into a tie for 4th, just two shots behind 54-hole leader Dustin Johnson. Morikawa (-7) will start the final round at 1:40 pm PDT today, paired with Sacramento native Cameron Champ (-8) in the second-to-last group.

Collin Morikawa on Saturday. Photo credit: UPI

“I had to play well,'' Morikawa said after Saturday’s third round. "Who knows if one of the leaders shoots 5 or 6-under and really separates themselves. To have a chance, I had to shoot a pretty good round at least. Now anything can happen to anyone.''

Morikawa began Saturday’s third round in a tie for 25th place at 2-under par, having carded back-to-back 69s in the first two rounds at Harding Park. But it became quickly evident that the two-time PGA Tour winner would make a charge up the leaderboard. Morikawa made birdies on three of the first seven holes to climb into the top 10 before the final groups started their rounds.

It wasn’t all cruise control for Morikawa, however. After starting the back nine with a birdie on the 10th to get to 6-under, he found a little bit of trouble at 12 and 13, finding the rough at both. He made two straight bogeys to fall back a bit to -4.

The hiccup was short lived. Morikawa rose back up with three straight birdies at 15, 16, and 17. He closed with a par at the 18th to finish his 5-under round of 65. When the day was done, Morikawa found himself in a tie for fourth place at -7 with two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka and longtime PGA Tour veteran Paul Casey. Just one stroke behind Morikawa, Koepka, and Casey are a group of six players that includes former major champions Justin Rose and Jason Day, along with Tommy Fleetwood, Tony Finau, and Bryson DeChambeau, any one of whom is capable of a Sunday run at the Wanamaker Trophy. All are chasing the 21-time PGA Tour winner and 2016 U.S. Open champion Johnson (-9).

For Morikawa, the chase for his first major championship is the latest chapter in his steep rise to PGA Tour prominence. The 23-year old is the 12th ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings after beginning the year 68th. In just the past two months, Morikawa won his first full-field PGA Tour event while also narrowly losing another event in a playoff. And with the Ryder Cup postponed until 2021, Morikawa is even getting some attention as a possible member of the United States’ team.

“Over these two months, I’ve had some highs and I’ve had some lows. It’s all been a learning experience. I’ve looked back at everything and just kind of use that for [Sunday],” he said.

Here’s hoping that Sunday is a fun day that brings a major championship to the former Cal golf star.