Collin Morikawa ‘very comfortable’ with role as golf’s newest star

Collin Morikawa will relish life in the spotlight as golf’s newest major champion and is already targeting more glory in the game’s biggest events.

Playing in just his second major and 28th tournament since turning professional 14 months ago, Morikawa won the US PGA Championship in sensational fashion after a thrilling final round at Harding Park in San Francisco.

The 23-year-old emerged from a seven-way tie for the lead in the closing stages by chipping in for a birdie on the 14th hole and then producing a stunning eagle on the 16th by driving the green on the 294-yard par four and holing from seven feet.

A closing 64 equalled the lowest round of the week and gave Morikawa a two-shot victory – his third since turning pro – over England’s Paul Casey and overnight leader Dustin Johnson, who has now failed convert any of his four 54-hole leads in majors.

Morikawa, whose only error came during the presentation ceremony when the lid of the Wanamaker Trophy fell off as he held it aloft, said: “I feel very comfortable in this spot.

“When I woke up (on Sunday) I was like, this is meant to be. This is where I feel very comfortable. This is where I want to be, and I’m not scared from it. I think if I was scared from it, the last few holes would have been a little different, but you want to be in this position.

“And for me it doesn’t stop here. I’ve got a very good taste of what this is like, what a major championship is like. I know we all had to have some type of adjustment not having fans (and) when fans do start coming back it’s going to be an adjustment, but this is where I want to be. I love it.

“The majors are going to be circled in, just like everyone else, but I’ve got to focus on every single week. I’m trying to win every single week. I’m not trying to come out and just win the majors.

“I’m 23. This is my first full year. I haven’t even had a full year (on Tour) with everything going on.”

Morikawa made his first start as a professional in the Canadian Open in June 2019 and made the cut in his first 22 events, just three short of the record held by Tiger Woods.

The run came to an end in the third event of the PGA Tour’s return to action following the coronavirus shutdown, but Morikawa promptly won on his next start by beating Justin Thomas in a play-off in the Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village.

Collin Morikawa
Collin Morikawa

Morikawa therefore has the same number of major titles to his name as missed cuts and the world number five is justifiably confident about his future ambitions.

“They are not expectations, they are all goals,” he added. “Expectations are what you put on me. That is what I filter out and what I don’t hear because I have set goals, and last year the goal obviously was to get some type of status (on the PGA Tour) and to learn from it.

“I had dinner with Justin Thomas (in Canada) and he told me, ‘If you’re good enough, you’re going to be out here at some point’. And I already felt good enough, I just had to have the starts.

“I was able to have one Korn Ferry start as an amateur and two PGA Tour starts as an amateur and I learned a lot from them, but starting from Canada it was very new for me.

“I felt very comfortable, but there’s a very different sense of comfort now.”