Destined for Superstardom
Golf Monthly|June 2021
Collin Morikawa has made a scintillating start to life as a professional golfer, and given his blend of on- and off-course attributes, the sky really is the limit
Brian Wacker

The first time Collin Morikawa played in a professional tournament was in 2016. He was 19 years old and had just finished his first year at the University of California-Berkeley, where he was the Golden Bears’ top finisher in seven of 14 tournaments. That summer, he teed it up in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Capital Classic in Kansas, earning an exemption into the event by winning the Trans-Mississippi Amateur the year before. Morikawa didn’t win, but, after making the cut on the number, he shot a pair of 63s on the weekend and sank a 27-footer on the 72nd hole to get into a three-man play-off.

Ollie Schniederjans prevailed, but Morikawa’s performance was eye-opening. A few months later, still an amateur and now in his second year of college, he played in his first PGA Tour event, the Safeway Open. Morikawa – the top-ranked amateur in the world for a few weeks in the spring of 2018 – missed the cut, but he wasn’t dissuaded.

“Of course there’s going to be that wow factor, but did I believe I belonged? Of course,” Morikawa says. “I didn’t go there just to enjoy the experience. I still wanted to play really well and have a good finish. But that week I missed the cut and you learn what you did wrong and what you need to do better.”

Morikawa, who boasted sterling academic marks throughout his formative years, proved a quick learner once school was out, too.

In his first tournament as a professional in the summer of 2019, he tied for 14th at the RBC Canadian Open. Five starts later, he won, making birdie on his last three holes to capture the Barracuda Championship. The victory came at the end of a run of three straight top-five finishes but was really only the beginning. Morikawa proceeded to make the cut in each of his first 22 starts on the PGA Tour, a mark that has been bettered by only Tiger Woods and his streak of 25 in a row.

A year to remember

When Morikawa’s run came to an end at the 2020 Travelers Championship, he again proved a good student. “It was bound to happen at some point,” he said at the time. “I’m going to learn a lot from this week. I missed the cut as an amateur at the Safeway Open in 2016, and I learned more in those two days than I did in a lot of my events so far as a pro.”

Indeed. The next time Morikawa teed it up, two weeks later at the Workday Charity Open at Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village Golf Club, he won again, this time in spectacular fashion, rallying from three down with three to play to force a play-off with Justin Thomas. Then he beat Thomas on the third extra hole for the second title of his career.

A month later, he won the USPGA Championship at TPC Harding Park, where, in the final round, he chipped in for birdie on the 14th hole then hit the shot of his life on the 294-yard par-4 16th – a driver to seven feet to set up an eagle. Morikawa’s six-under 64 was the best closing score by a champion in the event in a quarter of a century and enabled him to hold off Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson.

Just over a year earlier, Morikawa was still a college student, finishing up his degree and career as an All-American. “Instant maturity was probably the one thing that stood out,” Casey said in the wake of Morikawa’s triumph. “I mean, you know yourself – you’ve heard him talk. He’s very mature in the words he chooses, the way he speaks, the way he plays golf.”

Early promise

Much of that can be traced to his roots. Morikawa, who is part Japanese and whose fraternal grandparents were born in Hawaii and still live there, grew up in the leafy and upscale suburb La Cañada, 20 minutes north of downtown Los Angeles. He enjoyed a comfortable childhood and never had to want anything. His parents, Debbie and Blaine, co-own a nearby commercial laundry business, which provides plenty for the family, while his 17-year-old brother, Garrett, plays football. In other words, it’s a proverbial American dream.

Though the family had a membership to a private nine-hole club nearby, it was a public track, Scholl Canyon, a 3,000-yard, par-60, where a five-year-old Morikawa first began to show promise when his parents enrolled him in a junior camp that he was technically too young to participate in.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM GOLF MONTHLYView All

WINDS OF CHANGE

While 2021 proved one of the most eventful years in golf, the next 12 months could be even wilder. Hold on to your hats...

7 mins read
Golf Monthly
February 2022

TELLING IT LIKE IT IS

Revered South African Gary Player reflects on a glittering career and gives his view on some of golf’s talking points

4 mins read
Golf Monthly
February 2022

WALKING THE WALK

We hear from Jenny Brown, The R&A’s director of business operations, about the governing body’s bold vision for Lethamhill Golf Course

4 mins read
Golf Monthly
February 2022

Negotiate fairway bunkers with ease

Fault fixer

1 min read
Golf Monthly
February 2022

Living the dream

Johannes Veerman is one of a number of Americans plying their trade in Europe at the moment, and he’s loving every minute...

8 mins read
Golf Monthly
February 2022

Stop pushing your putts

SAVE PAR

1 min read
Golf Monthly
February 2022

I THOUGHT I WAS FINISHED BUT I COULDN'T GIVE UP

Becky Brewerton opens up about her dramatic and harrowing decline in the game – and how she has fought her way back to find happiness despite times of struggle

10+ mins read
Golf Monthly
February 2022

A New Chapter

Nick Dougherty on the highs and lows of his playing career and making the move into broadcasting

8 mins read
Golf Monthly
February 2022

ASK THE EXPERTS

Instructions By Top 50 Coach

2 mins read
Golf Monthly
February 2022

5 drills to transform your putting

I’m like Jack Nicklaus,” Andy Sullivan says, “I’ve never three-putted.” The 34-year-old from Nuneaton might like a laugh and a joke, but he’s actually quite serious when it comes to his putting, for he knows that it’s one of the strongest parts of his game. So, what’s his secret?

6 mins read
Golf Monthly
February 2022
RELATED STORIES

GOLF GOES TO NETFLIX AND IT HAS COMPETITION FROM TENNIS

Formula One racing got a huge boost in interest in North America through the Netflix series “Drive to Survive.”

6 mins read
AppleMagazine
January 21, 2022

SHOOTING FROM THE HIP

Celebrating the modern shooters that make aim-down-sights optional.

4 mins read
PC Gamer US Edition
January 2022

BATTERED TIGER'S TRAGIC COMEBACK

Legend confesses he won’t play golf full-time ever again

1 min read
Globe
December 20, 2021

Grand Openings

Hospitality heats up with new upscale properties for 2022.

5 mins read
Global Traveler
Class Act 2021

Home on the Greens

Golf-driven real estate is finally getting out of the rough.

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
September 20, 2021

News From the WORLD OF MEDICINE

HEALTH TIPS

3 mins read
Reader's Digest US
September 2021

What Works For Me: Swim With The Shark

During his career, Greg Norman racked up 91 professional wins and spent 331 weeks atop the Official World Golf Ranking. On the green and in the boardroom, the Hall of Fame lives up to his nickname: The Shark. Here’s how he stays razor sharp.

3 mins read
Men's Journal
July - August 2021

2022 Volkswagen Golf R

Drifting a Volkswagen Golf is weird. Like, really weird. The Golf has long been a beacon of front-wheel drive—and FWD-based all-wheel-drive— excellence, but getting its rear to swing wide typically meant yanking a handbrake or getting hit by a dump truck.

2 mins read
Motor Trend
July 2021

The Call of Y'all

Longer days and warmer temperatures— combined with travel starting to feel more accessible—means the season is ripe for tennis getaways. Ready to get back into the swing of things? Pack your gear and point your compass towards one of these SOUTHERN STATES

4 mins read
Tennis
May - June 2021

RANCHO BERNARDO INN

ARRIVAL/CHECK-IN: I had been itching for a road trip or staycation for a while and decided to take a few days away from Los Angeles and head down to sunny San Diego and explore downtown and Coronado Island.

2 mins read
Global Traveler
April - May 2021