AUGUSTA – A swing thought. That’s as detailed as Collin Morikawa will get about the “something” that he and his coaches “found” in his swing on Monday here at Augusta National.

“I’m not going to let you know,” Morikawa said with a mischievous grin Saturday. “I need it to work one more day.”

Whatever it was, five days later it is still working and it has fueled Morikawa’s ascent to the top of the leaderboard at the Masters. The 27-year-old Californian fired low-drama round of 69 Saturday to play himself into the final pairing of the 88th Masters.

Morikawa sits in second place, just a stroke off the pace set by leader Scottie Scheffler, who’s at 7-under par.

There certainly were no indications Morikawa was about to get things right coming to Augusta. He entered his eighth event of the 2024 season on the heels of one of the poorest stretches of his professional golf career.

Morikawa drove up Magnolia Lane fresh off a 75th-place finish at the Valero Open in San Antonio. That followed a T-45 at The Players and the second of his two missed cuts this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Morikawa’s scoring average of 70.43 ranked 109th on Tour and he was a pedestrian 43rd in the FedEx Cup standings entering this week.

Such a mediocre start was not at all the expectation coming into this season, especially after with a late October win in Japan. According to Data Golf, Morikawa’s 2023 season was his best year statistically by a wide margin. That means it was better than 2020, when he won the PGA Championship, and better than 2021, when hoisted the British Open’s Claret Jug at Royal St. George’s.

Hence, the mysterious swing change on Monday.

“JJ (caddie Jonathan Jakovac) and I gave ourselves a high-five midway through our session because we found something that made sense in our heads, worked,” Morikawa said. “And that’s the thought we’ve continued throughout the rest of this week.

Viola! Morikawa improved 1.54 in strokes approaching the green.

That wasn’t the end of Morikawa’s tweaking.

Though he played quite well in Thursday’s opening round with a 71, Morikawa still felt something was missing. Earlier this year, he changed putters – as in, radically changed. He went from being a long-time user of blade putters to a Taylor Made Spider. It had worked quite well for him most of the year.

Morikawa changed back to the mallet after Thursday’s first round.

There really was no strong indication that the flat stick was holding him back, but there was subtle improvement made in the second round. His putting average on greens he’d reached in regulation improved from 1.83 to 1.58 from Thursday to Friday. Overall, he improved from T39 in putting in the Masters field to T7 on Friday.

It wasn’t really about that, though.

“I just couldn’t get comfortable with it here,” Morikawa said. “Thankfully I had a backup (putter), a copy of what I’ve putted with in the past, pretty much the past year and a half. Felt like old times and nice to have that in the bag again.”

Morikawa went from 30 putts on Thursday to 27 on both Friday and Saturday, or 1.5 per green in regulation.

Morikawa’s penchant for change was in action well before the season started. He shocked many in the golf industry when he parted ways with Rick Sessinghaus, his swing coach since childhood, and hired Mark Blackburn, a longtime associate of Justin Rose. He has since parted ways with Blackburn and now is basically coachless.

Such a whirlwind of change could make runway model dizzy. Obviously, Morikawa is quite comfortable with it.

“Sometimes you’re searching, and I had to search,” Morikawa explained. “You have to find something. You know, where my game was last week, if I took it out here the first few days, I probably wouldn’t be here. I probably wouldn’t be playing today. So, you have to find something.”

Clearly, Morikawa has. So, he finds himself in a somewhat familiar place. Still somewhat young by pro golf standards, Morikawa will stride to the No. 1 tee Sunday already owning two major championships. He has made the cut in all four of his appearances at Augusta National, including a fifth-place finish in 2022 and T-10 last year.

For now, at least, all Morikawa’s tweaks are in his bag. Now, all he has to do is face off with the world’s No. 1 player, Scheffler, and eight others within five shots of lead.

On Sunday, the only thing on Morikawa’s mind will be slipping into that green jacket.

“I’m not going to say that it doesn’t cross my mind,” he said of that Masters tradition. “We are here on a Saturday night and I’m one back. So, I’m very excited about tomorrow, and I have to take that and use that to my advantage. … But when I grab that club out of the bag, I need to be able to execute those golf shots as best as I can, which is not thinking about the jacket.”

On the next swing change.