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'The gates are open': Morikawa rallies for breakthrough win at Barracuda

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Collin Morikawa of the United States poses with the trophy after winning during the final round of the Barracuda Championship at Montreux Country Club on July 28, 2019 in Reno, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)  - 

Three weeks after he was beaten at the buzzer by a former college rival, Collin Morikawa broke through for his maiden PGA Tour victory at the Barracuda Championship.

Morikawa enjoyed a stellar amateur career at Cal, and the 22-year-old has quickly found his footing since turning professional in June. He entered the week with a pair of top-5 finishes, highlighted by a runner-up result at the 3M Open earlier this month when fellow Class of 2019 member Matthew Wolff birdied the 72nd hole to edge him by a shot.

But Sunday, Morikawa was the man of the moment, shooting a bogey-free 65 that equated to a 14-point effort under the modified Stableford format. That included birdies on four of his last five holes, including each of the last three holes, and Morikawa's 47-point total left him three clear of runner-up Troy Merritt.

"To be in that position is what I've wanted to do all summer," Morikawa said. "To finally have the lead, it was out of my control. You don't always want that, but it was something really special to finally get the win. To have my family out here, my girlfriend and some friends, just makes this week so much more special."

Full-field scores from the Barracuda Championship

While the opposite-field victory does not get Morikawa into the Masters, it does qualify him for the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Players Championship and PGA Championship in 2020. It also grants him fully-exempt status through the 2021 season, and more immediately it makes him eligible for this season's playoffs.

Only six starts into his pro career, Morikawa is projected to move to 47th in the current points list, with the top 70 qualifying for the BMW Championship and the top 30 advancing to the Tour Championship.

"I think the gates are open," Morikawa said. "I've been knocking on the door the past month or so, and the game's been feeling good."

John Chin and Robert Streb tied for third, seven points behind Morikawa, while veterans Ryan Palmer and Martin Laird were among a tie for seventh in Reno.