What were you doing at 23-years-old? From finishing university to working a boring summer job, winning a major championship wasn’t probably on the list. Collin Morikawa didn’t just graduate from the University of California-Berkeley but in the 14 months as a professional golfer, he has three PGA Tour wins, including a major championship.
All at the age of 23.
“I feel very comfortable in this position,” Morikawa said. “But it was going to take a very, very good round today, and I knew with the leaderboard the way it was looking and everyone out there, you just had to play well.”
In a crowded leaderboard on Sunday at TPC Harding Park, Morikawa demonstrated tremendous resolve. Like he was an expert at golf’s biggest events.
Only this was Morikawa’s first time experiencing a weekend at a major. Morikawa posted a 65-64, the lowest 36-hole score on a major championship weekend in men’s golf.
It was far from easy for the California native. Halfway through the Back 9 on Sunday, there was a seven-way tie for the lead at 10-under-par, including major winners Dustin Johnson and Jason Day.
Morikawa never lost confidence. He already made critical par saves on the Front 9, including a 22-footer on the first hole.
“Those are huge, especially for me when I make a putt like that, I feel like I can make anything on the golf course,” Morikawa said.
Even after disappointing iron shots to the green on 13 and 14, Morikawa was confident he could seize the moment to break away from the pack.
And it happened, chipping in on the 14th hole from just below the green.
“It was a huge turning point on 14, and it was one of those chips where I stepped over it, and I was like this is going in,” Morikawa said. “This chip just feels like it’s going to go in, and actually when I hit it, I didn’t think it was going to go in. I almost started stepping forward because I thought it was going to be a little short right, and you just get a couple of extra rolls and there you go, you’re making birdie.”
If TPC Harding Park is a “big boy” golf course, then Morikawa’s “big boy” moment came on the driveable par-4 16th hole. Only 289 yards in the final round, Morikawa and his caddie, Jonathan Jakovac, committed to using driver.
A shot similar to Morikawa’s tee shot at the 14th of Muirfield Village a few weeks ago, it landed on the green, six-feet from the pin for eagle. Morikawa drained it, en route to winning his first major.
The chip-in at 14 and the eagle at 16 cemented Morikawa’s PGA Championship legacy. Even more impressive, is he did this at 23 years old, with so many golfers breathing down his neck.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 10, 2020
14 months ago, Collin Morikawa attended his commencement at the University of California-Berkeley. Afterward, he began his professional career in Canada.
Since then, Morikawa made over $6 million in earnings, with three PGA Tour victories, including Sunday’s PGA Championship.
and now …
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 10, 2020
The average amount of starts before a first major victory is 23.1. Morikawa did it in just two starts, joining Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Rory McIlroy as the only golfers to win the PGA at 23-years-old.
“I love his consistency,” Matthew Wolff said of Morikawa’s game. “He hits a lot of fairways, a lot of greens. He’s an unbelievable iron play, and he’s just missed, what, one cut, two wins? It’s pretty unbelievable. It’s super cool to see him playing well.”
The big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau, is also a fan of Morikawa.
“My first memory was at a Western Am, Rich Harvest Farms, and he was an unbelievable ball striker,” DeChambeau said. “It’s something that I envy and hopefully I can get there one day.”
There’s a new wave of young golfers on the PGA Tour scene, including Wolff (21) and Viktor Hovland (22). Collin Morikawa is now at the forefront of golf’s youth contingent.
His ambitions will continue to drive him to be the best. And remain in the major spotlight for years to come.
“The majors are going to be circled in, just like everyone else, but I’ve got to focus on every single week. I’m trying to win every single week,”
“I love golf. I love being in this position and I love just being able to come out here and play with a bunch of guys that love the sport, too, and that’s why I think I love being in this position.”