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Sentry Tournament of Champions prize money

Collin Morikawa’s planning a homecoming party for the ages at the US Open

The two-time major winner tells NCG he’s hoping familiar surroundings can propel him to US Open glory

 

Who said familiarity breeds contempt? That couldn’t be further from the truth for Collin Morikawa as he returns home for the US Open.

While the City of Angels hasn’t held a major championship for 75 years, the two-time ‘big four’ winner knows all about Los Angeles Country Club.

Morikawa is an LA native and played in big amateur events at the venerable layout – as well as being part of the US Walker Cup team there that demolished Great Britain & Ireland 19-7 just six years ago.

That alone may give him a big advantage over everyone except World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who was also a part of that time, as LACC gets ready to hold America’s national championship for the first time.

Morikawa, a Rolex testimonee, spoke to NCG about ‘going home’, how this US Open could top the 150th Open at St Andrews last year, and why The R&A and USGA need to work together to make the game better…

What are your thoughts on the US Open taking place in Los Angeles where you grew up? Do you feel like you have a home advantage?

I hope that I will have a home advantage. It is interesting that during the 2020 PGA Championship, I was studying at college in San Francisco, and some people referred to me having a home advantage but it was not quite the advantage that some golf courses offer.

Hopefully, I will feel the same level of comfort that I will feel in Los Angeles, as it will always have a special place in my heart. It will always be my home.

It will be very special for me to win a Major Championship at the Los Angeles Country Club, as it is there that I also played big amateur events such as the Walker Cup.

There is a lot of history there, having grown up there as well adds a certain motivation. It will probably be one of the most special Major Championships in my career. I thought that the 150th Open at St Andrews was very special, but personally I think the US Open in 2023 will equal or be more valued then experiencing that event. I will do everything that I can to succeed there.

Walker Cup Collin Morikawa

You played at LACC during the 2017 Walker Cup with Scottie Scheffler?

Scottie Scheffler has proven himself to the world and to everyone else, even though we knew as golfers how good he was. I have known Scottie since twelve years old, and he has always been very good, and always at the top.

During the Walker Cup, I made a hole in one with him, and there is a video that proves that he was there with me! Having played at the Los Angeles Country Club, I have seen that it is a different type of golf course in terms of length that us golfers are used to playing.

We are used to playing on the West Coast so the grass and terrain will be different. It will require excellent ball striking from the tee to land on the greens. You cannot be hitting a ball too far, even though the fairways are wider than some of the U.S. Opens that we play because of the distance it will require. It will require players to hit very good iron shots from mid-range to long irons.

As a multiple Major winner, what does it mean to you to be in the same company as fellow Rolex Testimonees and legends of the game such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, and Tiger Woods?

I would not place myself in the same category quite yet. Winning one Major is a hard target in itself, but having won two and hopefully many more to come remains a challenge.

It is only a small category of people and that you are able to compare to, and to be able to talk within the same category. I remember two weeks after winning my first Major, Tiger came up to me and said “welcome to the Major Club”, and I got chills just from hearing that.

Then winning another Major, The Open Championship in 2021, it places you in another club, and being part of this shared history, and the names that you will be associated with for the rest of your life is so special. It cannot be taken away from you as you earned that trophy through hard work. It is really hard to describe.

Who has been the biggest influence on your golf career?

The biggest influence on my golfing career has to be my parents. They were the ones who introduced me to this amazing sport. They have been so supportive throughout my entire career, from junior golf, all the way to becoming professional.

It is really astonishing to see how many hours, days and weekends were dedicated to supporting, and driving me to practice and then a nine-hole tournament. They sacrificed so much for me to go play tournaments. Now, I think they enjoy attending tournaments more. I know that they are still very nervous watching me play!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Justin Thomas

I would say professionally, Justin Thomas gave me the best piece of advice. It was my first week on the PGA Tour as a professional, we were at the RBC Canadian Open in 2019.

I do not know where he got this advice but it is one of the most important pieces he could have offered me as an upcoming golfer, and that is “no one can decide your path; it can be long or short. If you truly love what you are doing, and you really believe that you are going to make it to the PGA Tour, or whether you will achieve Tour dreams, the path will come to fruition and it will be there. One just has to keep going, and to continue to work hard”.

Since then, that has really stuck. If I was earning these sponsor exemptions, and then spots in tournament; I knew that at some point we were going to make it to the PGA Tour.

But he said, you know, it could be tomorrow, where after the Canadian Open, I can earn my PGA Tour card, it could be in five years, it could be in 10 years. I think that this journey also defines golf, it is the unknown.

It can be quick, it can be tough, but it can be easy. As long as you love the journey, you are going to love the process, and it will hopefully allow you to achieve your dreams.

How do you like to relax and spend time away from the golf course?

We travel – I am very lucky to travel the world, mainly in the US with my wife Katherine for 25 weeks per year. We visit so many places, and we live out of a suitcase for most of the year.

So when we are home, I enjoy being able to relax, and to spend quality time with our dog – whether that is just going for hikes. It is important to separate yourself from the golf course, and to remain active whilst doing other activities. This is the best quality time, as we spend so much time on the golf course, focusing on the game, and to master its craft. This means that even the activity of admiring watches is enjoyable, because not only do I love them but it allows a nice distraction away from the game of golf.

One question around the R&A – You grew up with the USGA around you, and you participated in the Walker Cup. How do you see the role of The R&A within the world of golf?

I personally think that the R&A and the USGA have to work together simultaneously. Everyone can have their own goals and their own reaches but they should work towards making golf more accessible. They should question how do we make golf enjoyable, along with questioning the overall perception of the game of golf.

When looking at perception of brands around the world, everyone has a different way of defining the game. We can ask a professional golfer, and an outsider. They will have differing answers. Overall, I think the perception on the game has been defined by history, and the aim should be to make it more accessible in general. To help redefine the game of golf, and to open its arms.

Collin Morikawa

Can you describe what it is like to join the Rolex family, alongside the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth?

It is a legacy, an everlasting lifetime relationship that you become in joining a family – part of the Rolex family. Since joining, this is how I have felt from day one. Everyone at Rolex have made me feel very comfortable and welcomed, whether that is touring the Rolex factory or meeting the Rolex team. It has been an honor and privilege to meet everyone, and to be embraced with open arms into the heart of what Rolex represents.

What are your overall thoughts about Rolex’s longstanding support of golf?

As I am a professional golfer, I appreciate Rolex’s support and dedication to the game of golf, and it not just the support of the tournaments but investing in the overall aspect of what golf represents. Rolex’s support, whether that is seen or whether it occurs behind the scenes is very apparent, and you notice this at every Major. It is something special that is so appreciated amongst everyone within the Rolex family.

Collin Morikawa is a Rolex Testimonee and part of the brand’s enduring relationship with the game which began more than 50 years ago, in 1967, with Arnold Palmer, joined by Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. Since then, the affiliation between Rolex and golf has grown into one with a global reach. The U.S. Open has been the scene of memorable triumphs for an elite band of Rolex Testimonees, most notably golfing legend Jack Nicklaus, who shares the record for the most victories, having lifted the U.S. Open Trophy on four occasions (1962, 1967, 1972, 1980). Other Testimonees to have triumphed include Arnold Palmer (1960), Gary Player (1965), Tom Watson (1982), Curtis Strange (1988, 1989), Tiger Woods (2000, 2002, 2008), Jordan Spieth (2015), Jon Rahm (2021) and Matt Fitzpatrick (2022). At the U.S. Open, accuracy is everything, making Rolex, Official Timekeeper since 1980, a perfect partner

Can Collin Morikawa pick up the third leg of the Grand Slam at Los Angeles Country Club? Let us know with a tweet.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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