Morikawa's Magic

Seeks 3rd major, shares lead at halfway point

US Open – Morikawa’s Magic

US Open - Morikawa's Magic
(Jeff Haynes/USGA)

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

BROOKLINE, MA. Big moments are for big players. It is those occasions where the truly gifted assert themselves. On that front — circle the name of Collin Morikawa. He is co-leader with Joel Dahmen after two round of this year’s U.S. Open at The Country Club, Morikawa shot 66 for the day’s play — tying the low 18-hole number scored thus far in the championship. His play also resulted in a two-day total of 135 — the lowest 36-hole start Morikawa has had in his fourth U.S. Open start.

US Open – Morikawa’s Magic

The 25-year-old showed his golfing prowess right after turning professional in 2019 — after being ranked the world’s top amateur player for a three-week period in May 2018. His leap to professional golf was noteworthy — 22 consecutive events in a row — second only to the 25 in a row Tiger Woods had as a rookie in 1996-1997.

Before he turned 25 the seventh ranked player in the world had claimed two major championships. The first coming in 2019 when on his first attempt in the PGA Championship the former collegiate star at nearby UC-Berkely claimed the Wannamaker Trophy with a drive that reached the short par-4 16th at Harding Park and resulted in him making an eagle. The win at 23 made him the third youngest champion in the event’s history and the fourth golfer to win the PGA before reaching 24.

US Open – Morikawa’s Magic

Last year Morikawa won The Open Championship — again on his first attempt in playing in golf’s oldest major event. In the history of golf — such a feat had never been done. His final round 66 showcased vintage golf with no bogies on the scorecard. Taking home the Claret Jug was a statement win because while a number of golfers might win one major championship — only the truly talented capture a second.

Morikawa was also on the USA squad that vanquished Europe in last year’s Ryder Cup matches and he played a key role by going 3-0-1.

US Open – Morikawa’s Magic

If you notice one thing about Collin, it’s very clear — in big time situations he has raised his game to the challenge faced.

Now he sets his eyes on claiming the U.S. Open Championship. A third different major by the age of 25 would be a heady accomplishment — signaling another milestone in his ascending career.

But Morikawa realizes much work remains with 36 hole to play. There’s also a leaderboard that has stout rivals such as Rory McIlroy, defending champion Jon Rahm and world-number-one Scottie Scheffler — all within two shots of one another.

US Open – Morikawa’s Magic

Morikawa is aware of the stakes involved and how he will need to proceed for the weekend rounds.

“Yeah, it’s a major championship. It’s the U.S. Open. No one has taken it deep so far and kind of run away, but you know what, right now my game feels really good. The last few days is a huge confidence booster for me heading into this weekend, and hopefully we can kind of make some separation somehow.”

The Country Club has the smallest sized greens used for the U.S. Open with the exception of Pebble Beach and Collin’s forte is having an iron game arguably the finest in golf. He is also aware that having a steady tee game is needed in order for him to bring his reliable iron game to the forefront.

“Fairways are bouncy, and you’ve got to keep it in the fairways out here. You can play out of the first cut, but you get five, six, seven yards off the fairway, you’re going to be trying to run up to greens, and sometimes you can’t do that out here.”

US Open – Morikawa’s Magic

Since his arrival on the PGA Tour, Morikawa has demonstrated the polish of a ten-year veteran. The poise and confidence displayed is not one of arrogance but a resolute belief in his ability level. When he has put himself in position, his clubs have done serious talking on his behalf.

Adjustment are part and parcel for any golfer when playing in golf’s major events and although Morikawa is more comfortable in playing a fade for most of his full shots — he is equally confident he can work the ball with a slight draw when called upon.

“I think what it proves is just you can play this game with many shots. I remember the first time I played with Tiger, and he hit every shot that called for it. Pin is on the right; you hit a little cut. Pin is on the left; you hit a little draw. I think this is just going to hopefully make my iron play and make my game a little bit more well-rounded rather than just hitting a cut. But this week we’re just going to work with what we have, and right now it’s a little baby draw.”

If there’s any real weakness in Collin’s game it is a putting stroke that can be inconsistent at different times. 

US Open – Morikawa’s Magic

The six-time PGA Tour winner will be in the final group Saturday with Dahmen. Interestingly, when Morikawa has opened up with a score in the 60s — he won both majors. Doing so again at The Country Club would be especially meaningful but the ever-grounded Morikawa is not going to get ahead of himself.

“I can’t really talk about what it would be like to win this one. I’ve got to focus on tomorrow. I’ve got to stick to my game plan. I’ve got to make sure I don’t run out of steam, which I kind of have been through that kind of little stretch after nine holes. I’ve just got to figure out a way to focus a little bit deeper and really get dialed in for the next 36.”

(Jeff Haynes/USGA)

US Open – Morikawa’s Magic

Will Morikawa’s magic be front and center? U.S. Opens are anything but predictable. However, doubting Morikawa has proven to be a foolish proposition. Those chasing him have already seen the kind of golf he is fully capable of demonstrating. 

Morikawa is the epitome of the new generation of players that is now the focal point for golf’s biggest events. They as a group are not waiting to assert themselves. Morikawa is at the center of this movement now at the heart of the sport.

With Morikawa in the mix — and with such an all-star grouping of players with McIlroy, Rahm and Scheffler in contention there is only a two-word assessment at this year’s U.S. Open —

Game on.

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