Collin Morikawa: ‘It is wonderful to have a friendship’ with Tiger Woods

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Morikawa solely turned professional in 2019 however has already made historical past as the primary male golfer to win each the PGA Championship and the Open in his match debuts.

Regardless of taking part in golf from a comparatively early age, Morikawa did not actually watch the game when he was rising up. Because of this, he by no means actually appeared as much as the sport’s greats as heroes or for motivation, as many aspiring golfers would.

The exception, nevertheless, is Woods.

“I believe if you convey up Tiger Woods to somebody that does not even know something about golf, they know he represents golf and the game of golf,” Morikawa tells CNN’s Becky Anderson.

“What he is finished for this recreation, how he is modified the evolution of not simply the bodily side, the psychological side, however simply rising the sport around the globe. That is somebody who I look as much as.

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“It is wonderful to have a friendship, to know him, to speak to him and that is the best factor, is that he is grown this recreation like nobody else ever has.

“There’s just a few athletes on the earth that I can consider, and that basically anybody can consider, which have finished that to their respective sport. In order that’s, in fact, somebody who I will look as much as.”

There’s one interplay particularly from their relationship which stands out to Morikawa.

In the course of the 2020 Farmers Insurance coverage Open — the primary time Morikawa had been paired with Woods on the PGA Tour — Woods nailed a drive down the center of the green, then turned to Morikawa and cracked a joke.

“I am like: ‘What is going on on? That is bizarre,'” he recollects. “‘He is making an attempt to beat me, I do know he’s, and I am making an attempt to beat him as properly.’ But it surely made it simply that rather more stress-free and you would see the human aspect of him.

“I believe what I’ve realized is that we’re not simply golfers and I believe everybody has that notion, is that each one we do is golf 24/7, however there’s a lot extra behind the layers of each single individual out right here and that is been cool to get to know these individuals as precise people.”

Their pairing at that match was a major second for each gamers — and one that can have made a number of viewers really feel fairly previous — as Morikawa grew to become the primary participant born after Woods turned professional in 1996 to be paired with the 14-time main winner in a PGA Tour occasion.

Had Morikawa been taking part in again then, he speculates their friendship maybe may not have developed.

“It is so totally different since you hear these tales when he was turning professional very early on, early once I was actually younger, that he would not speak to anybody,” he says. “He was actually targeted, actually dialed in.

“Clearly, he is grown so much. He is at a special stage of his life. He is obtained a pair children. Fortunately, he is much more relaxed.”

READ: After ‘life-changing’ main win, Collin Morikawa says fame will not change him

Do not name it a breakout

To go together with his PGA Championship win in 2020 and Open victory the next 12 months, Morikawa capped a exceptional 2021 by successful the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship and have become the primary American in historical past to win the Race to Dubai.

Morikawa’s sustained success in 2021 — which additionally included a successful file in Staff USA’s Ryder Cup victory — proved that 2020 was no fluke, however the 24-year-old stops wanting calling 2021 his “breakout” 12 months.

“I like the way you state that as a breakout 12 months as a result of I do not take a look at it as that means,” he explains. “I am positive many individuals do and look, do not get me unsuitable, the 12 months I had in 2021 was wonderful — a WGC, a serious, Race to Dubai, a DP World Tour Championship — however I take a look at it as there are such a lot of locations to enhance, so many locations to get higher.

Morikawa celebrates on the 17th green after guaranteeing the half point needed for the US to win the Ryder Cup.

“And that is how I hold getting higher is that I believe I’ve a lot room for progress, that I am simply able to do extra. It isn’t: ‘How do I high final 12 months? How do I do that? How do I try this?’ It is simply: ‘I need to win extra. I need to contend extra.’ And once I do not, I obtained to determine why.”

Although nonetheless fairly a while away, Morikawa has already began excited about defending his Open title in July.

The Los Angeles native put in a wonderful efficiency in protection of his PGA Championship title final 12 months, ultimately ending tied for eighth, however has set his sights on topping that on the prestigious St. Andrews course, dubbed ‘the House of Golf.’

“Anytime you are defending a match, it is particular as a result of clearly you had gained that match the earlier 12 months,” he says. “However when it is the Open Championship, it is even that rather more particular. It is a main … when it is the 150th, how do you high that?

Morikawa kisses the Claret Jug on the 18th hole after winning The 149th Open at Royal St George's Golf Club.

“After which being at St. Andrews, the house of golf, numerous issues needed to align to get there as a defending champion.

“However I do not need to simply present up as a defending champion and be recognized for that. I need to come out as a contender. I need to come out and win, and hopefully defend once more. So that is the primary aim, clearly to indicate up and win once more.”

If Morikawa’s 2021 is something to go by, then it appears unlikely he’ll cease successful anytime quickly.

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