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Collin Morikawa is a bad man.
As if we needed any further confirmation that the winner of two majors before his 24th birthday — including the British Open in July — has that rare X-factor to go along with a deadly iron game, Morikawa answered what he learned about himself at the Ryder Cup.
“That I love being in that position,” he said. “I mean, I was more nervous on the Walker Cup tee shot, which is crazy to even think about, than my first Ryder Cup tee shot, which I don’t know if many people could say that, but I just loved being in that moment.”
Major winners and Hall of Famers have been shaken to the core at the first tee of Ryder Cups – see colleague Steve DiMeglio’s story if you haven’t already – but not Morikawa. This is the same guy who at the Ryder Cup turned to partner Dustin Johnson and said, “Let’s step on their necks.”
Stone. Cold. Killer.
Morikawa also said he learned valuable lessons about himself that will help in future team competitions, majors and regular PGA Tour events, such as this week’s Zozo Championship in Chiba, Japan. Morikawa, who is of Japanese descent, is making his fifth trip to Japan dating to 2016, and fourth to play golf.
“I’ve pretty much come back once a year almost and it’s just getting better and better,” said Morikawa, who finished T-22 at the Zozo in 2019 and lost out in a playoff for the bronze medal at the Summer Olympics in August. That competition was played without fans, who will be a welcome addition to Morikawa this week.
“These are some of the best fans,” Morikawa said. “I was here earlier for the Olympics and we didn’t have anyone and it just felt dull. Even though it was the Olympics and we knew what we were playing for, it just, it has a different feeling when you have fans. I remember my first tee shot out here two years ago when there were fans on stools and lined up five, six people deep. They would cheer for you walking to tee boxes, hitting every tee shot whether it’s good or bad.”
And that’s not all Morikawa enjoys about returning to Japan – he also digs the food, especially sushi and udon.
“All of it,” he said. “I think it’s the best. I can come out here and stay for a month, I wish, and just eat and I probably would not look the same coming back.”
Morikawa played nine holes on Monday with the World’s No. 1 amateur, Keita Nakajima. He’s only a few years removed from being in college golf and advised Nakajima to savor these times because it won’t be long before he will be living his dream on the pro stage. Morikawa recorded his best result since winning the British Open at last week’s CJ Cup at The Summit, a runner-up finish to Rory McIlroy in Las Vegas. Morikawa overcame a slow start, shooting 17 under on the weekend, which included a final-round 62. With the wisdom of a Japanese sensei, Morikawa explained how sometimes the smallest adjustments can lead to the biggest results.
“I tell myself when I’m playing bad, these are big lessons I want to learn from and make sure I don’t try and repeat them, but when I’m playing good, sometimes I forget what I did as well,” he said. “And it’s not as simple as just taking a swing video when you’re playing well and you can remember that. It’s just little things that sometimes you forget about them because you worry about something else or you’re trying to work on another part of your game, but it’s stick to your strengths and keep pushing those.”
Morikawa isn’t content to just sit home and win tournaments in the U.S. He wants to be a world player and he isn’t afraid to travel, with tournaments scheduled in Dubai and the Bahamas in the next month and a half.
“You want your game to travel,” he said. “That’s why I’m a European Tour member, that’s why I play a lot or I try and play a lot in different places.”
And that, too, is what makes him a stone-cold killer.