Collin Morikawa Rolls into U.S. Open

June 12, 2019
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Not a month removed from his stellar Cal golf career, Collin Morikawa’s pro days are off to a roaring start.

In his first tournament as a professional, he finished in a tie for 14th last weekend at the RBC Canadian Open and pocketed a check for $125,400. Before the ink was dry he flew to the Monterey Peninsula to begin preparing for this week’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

“Playing in my first professional event felt very comfortable and was very exciting,” Morikawa said via text in response to a question from Bear Insider. “I’ve dreamt about this moment for a while and to finally make it happen is so humbling.”

Now he enters his biggest stage when he tees off on Thursday.. He will take his first swing at 12:41 p.m. as a member of a Pac-12 threesome. His playing partners are Joel Dahmen (Washington) and Aaron Wise (Oregon). 

Since his arrival at Pebble, he has played a practice round with Rory McIlroy and had dinner with Justin Thomas.

“But I am making sure I get some rest,” Morikawa told Beth Ann Nichols of GolfWeek.

It is hard to see how he is managing it, and he admitted he has been on the road all but one day since graduation.

For a tour rookie, his performance at the Canadian Open was remarkable in its consistency. He opened with a par 70 and followed with rounds of 66, 69, and 67. In some ways, the third round was the most impressive. He was two over par after eight holes but finished one under, helped in no small measure by a 31-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole.

Morikawa’ eight-under final total was 14 shots behind McIlroy, who won the event. However, it is interesting to check out some of those who finished behind the former Cal ace. Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk and Brooks Kaepka, some names that have spent considerable time on US Open leaderboards, all trailed Morikawa in Canada.

Collin and caddy at Canadian Open

This week Morikawa signed endorsement deals with clothing giant adidas and equipment producer TaylorMade. According to GolfWeek, Morikawa wasted little time getting suitable stuff from TaylorMade.

The publication said he spent an hour grooving in a new 60-degree TaylorMade HI-TOE wedge. HIs swing coach Rick Sessinghausen told GolfWeek that such a tool is necessary for dealing with the tight lies and mangy rough of Pebble Beach. “Finding a club that he’s comfortable with being able to do both has been the mystery that’s now solved,” Sessinghaus told Golf Week.

Morikawa will be his third appearance at Pebble Beach.  “I’ve played at Pebble Beach when I was ten and the U.S. Amateur last year,” he said.

There is no record of how the ten-year-old fared at Pebble. At the Amateur he finished tied for 46th in stroke play and made the round of 64 in match play.

“Being in the U.S. Open is very special, and to have it at Pebble Beach makes it even more special,” he texted.

Thursday’s group, which will start on the tenth tee, is interesting, and I wonder if it is a coincidence or if the USGA knowingly grouped products of the same college conference.

Wise, who turned pro in 2016, won the NCAA individual title that year, Morikawa’s freshman season.The Ducks also captured the team title.  This will be his third appearance in the Open and he has yet to make the cut. Dahmen turned pro in 2010 after one year at Washington. This is his first U.S. Open appearance. His best finish this year was second at the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina. The winner was Cal grad Max Homa.

 

Morikawa’s deal with adidas was announced with great fanfare by the apparel giant.

“We are excited to welcome Collin to the adidas family,” said Tim McNulty, director of global sports marketing for adidas Golf.  “Collin has shown both on the golf course and in the classroom that he is a high achiever. We look forward to supporting him on his journey in professional golf.”

Morikawa, who now must get rid of all his Under Armor gear from Cal, was equally effusive.

“It’s a dream come true to partner with adidas as I embark on my career as a professional,” said Morikawa in the news release. “I’ve been a lifelong fan of the brand, and to have the opportunity to represent the 3-Stripes is truly an honor.”


 

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