'There's Such A Grey Line' - Collin Morikawa Reacts To Hero World Challenge Penalty

Morikawa was reportedly informed of his penalty just 25 minutes prior to his final round tee time

Collin Morikawa watches his iron shot
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Collin Morikawa has endured a rather mixed 2023 and, at the Hero World Challenge, the American was assessed a two-stroke penalty on the fourth hole during his third round for a breach of Model Local Rule G-11, which restricts the use of green-reading materials.

According to Morikawa, he was told of the penalty by the PGA Tour’s Chief Referee, Stephen Cox, just "25 minutes before teeing off" and, following his final round, the two-time Major winner has given his response and reaction to the penalty.

"Yeah, no. Look, got assessed a two-stroke penalty on four yesterday for what we had deemed to be an OK thing. And the only reason why we deemed that, what we had in our notes was OK, was because he had asked other officials, he had asked other caddies and it sounded as if other people were doing this. And when you ask an official something, you assume it's right. 

"Well, apparently if they tell you something wrong one day in a different tournament does not carry on, and I understand that we made the mistake. But look, from our understanding it was fine to use a level on the practice green and see how putts break and write that down. Obviously it's not. But it just seems like there's such a grey line in today's rules. And not with a lot of rules, but just with things like this, you know. He said he made it clear, but I think if you go ask -- J.J. was asking every caddie today, and obviously there's a small field in asking all the caddies, all the players, and it seemed as if we weren't doing things wrong, right? I think you can ask other players. 

"Look, at the end of the day we made the mistake and it's on us. Thankfully it only happened that one time. And I promise you it only did happen on the fourth hole because he read a putt wrong on the first hole with his feet and I fired him in the first round from reading my putts and it was what it was. Look, it's not how I wanted to end 2023, but to know that for me not hitting balls up until Monday and taking pretty much a month off because of multiple reasons, it's nice to just know that I can still put together a few rounds even when s**t hits the fan."

Collin Morikawa lines up a putt

Morikawa during the third round of the Hero World Challenge

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Firing a four-under-par round of 68 on Sunday, Morikawa had, originally, started six shots back of leader and eventual winner, Scottie Scheffler, but following his two-shot penalty, it was in fact eight strokes. That wasn't the issue for the American though, more the fact the timing of the penalty...

"To be honest, I didn't know I was eight back until 25 minutes before I was teeing off. J.J. got a text from Stephen Cox in the morning. He didn't let me know because he just didn't want me to worry about anything. Then we started warming up and about 45 minutes left in my warmup, that's when he got another text from Stephen to say meet in the locker room. 

"We go there and we're looking for him and he's nowhere to be found and that's just more frustrating on my part because, look, at the end of the day, like to just be direct. Like we're too much back and forth with everything in today's golf world, right? Just be direct and tell me like am I playing, am I not playing? Just give it to me, right? Kind of going around the bush. Look, I get it, no one wants to hurt anyone's feelings and it is what it is."

Matt Cradock
Staff Writer

Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.

Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.

Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?

Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°

Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°

Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°

Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x