Golf Q&A: Cal golfer Collin Morikawa
Collin Morikawa is a rising junior at the University of California, Berkeley (Cal). In his short time at Cal, Moirkawa has worked hard to cement himself as one of greatest golfers in Cal history.
In his opening campaign as a Golden Bear, he became the first player in school history to be named to the GCAA All-Freshman team, and he was the second Cal player to be named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. He also finished in a tie for 10th place in the 2016 NCAA Championships at Eugene Country Club, which matched the best-ever finish by a freshman at the event.
Morikawa continued his success into his sophomore season by posting a school-record 69.94 stroke average, the second-best score in the nation that year. He was named to the Ping First-Team All-America, and he was a semifinalist for both the Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan Awards.
He capped off his year by competing for Team USA in the 2017 Arnold Palmer Cup at Atlanta Athletic Club. While in Atlanta, Morikawa received an exemption to play in the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational. His fellow players voted him as the player who best represented the legacy of Mr. Palmer.
We caught up with Collin after his victory at the Northeast Amateur as he looks forward to the rest of the summer and the next year.
1. You were a big part of a special American team at this year's Arnold Palmer Cup at Atlanta Athletic Club. Tell us about your time in Atlanta and how it compares to other tournaments you've competed in.
Representing America in this year's Arnold Palmer Cup at Atlanta Athletic Club was a memorable experience that not only taught me lessons on and off the course, but also created a new family that we are all a part of. Everyone from the GCAA, members at the course, my teammates and coaches, and the volunteers helping to make this week an unforgettable time felt like one big family.
What separates this tournament from other high-caliber amateur events is the team aspect and representing your country. Being an individual during a golf tournament places many different pressures on you, but adding the aspect of representing the red, white and blue is simply an honor.
There aren't many times when players get the opportunity to play for their country, which is why the Arnold Palmer Cup is such an amazing event. And when opportunities such as this come around, it is always a goal for myself and other players to earn a spot on the team.
Coming out on the winning end made this week even more special for everyone on the American side, but even without the win, being able to recognize the legacy of Mr. Arnold Palmer and what he has done for this game is truly amazing.
2. What did it mean to you to be selected by your fellow players for the exemption for the Arnold Palmer Invitational?
I could not be more appreciative of receiving the exemption and votes by my teammates to play in the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational. The voting could have gone to any of the exceptional players and people on our team, but to be recognized as the person to represent Mr. Palmer and everything he has done for the game leaves me speechless.
Although I am representing him at the event, I hope to exemplify his ideals and morals everywhere I go. Mr. Palmer's legacy expands everywhere around the world and not just on the golf course. The opportunity to play in his event will be an experience I'll always take with me.
3. This won't be your first PGA Tour event, since you competed in the 2017 Safeway Open. Are you looking forward to representing the Arnold Palmer Cup in a prestigious event like Arnold Palmer Invitational? What do you look forward to the most when you get to compete on the tour?
Playing with the pros. It's as simple as that. Being able to compete on the PGA Tour at the Arnold Palmer Invitational will be a great test of my game against the best in the world.
Having experience in two previous professional events, one being the Safeway Open last fall, will definitely help me when this time comes around. Playing on this stage is one of my goals in the future, and to get another shot at playing with the best in the world will be such a great learning opportunity.
4. You had a very impressive month in June. You started off by helping lead Team USA to a resounding victory at the Arnold Palmer Cup, and then you won the Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, Rhode Island. What have you been able to do that has helped you be so successful?
There haven't been any mental changes to my game this past month, but throughout the entire year I felt as if my game has been heading in the right direction, and luckily the time came when I could put together four solid rounds and come out on top at the Northeast Amateur. Losing in a playoff the week before at the Sunnehanna Amateur gave me confidence for the Northeast, and I knew my game was in the right place to get the win.
As I continue this summer, my short-game practice could not be emphasized enough, because that is what will either save or help my rounds as I continue throughout my career.
5. Your victory in the Northeast Amateur has put you in a great position for the upcoming Walker Cup in September. What would it mean to you to be selected to the team and represent your country for the second time in one summer?
I have put myself in a good position, but all I can worry about now until that time is playing good golf and worrying about one shot at a time for each tournament. However, with that being said, representing my country twice in one summer would be an honor.
Being selected to the Arnold Palmer Cup and Walker Cup team is a goal I have always had as an amateur golfer. Representing my university throughout the school year is always really exciting, but wearing the American flag on my clothes is something as a player, I always look forward to.
Usually, when you represent your country, it is on the biggest stage, and there is no doubt the Arnold Palmer Cup and Walker Cup are the biggest stages of amateur/college golf. Also, being from LA my entire life and having the Walker Cup at Los Angeles Country Club would just top it off feeling "at home."
6. You were the University of California, Berkley's first player to be named to the GCAA All-Freshman team, and you were named to the Ping All-America first team this year as a sophomore. What has your time at Cal meant to you, and what else do you hope to accomplish?
I've always wanted to challenge myself in everything I take on, and the University of California, Berkeley, has given me the chance to challenge myself at both but also succeed and achieve high goals.
I think Cal has been one of the best decisions I have made because I have surrounded myself with smart and self-driven people who all want to be the best at what they do. From my coaches, teammates, and friends that I've made in my two years, I couldn't be more proud to represent my school each day.
The Cal family is something I'll always take with me and the time I have spent at school is something that could never be traded with. Go Bears!