Morikawa didn’t focus on the lore of the master when trying to make it

Augusta, Ga. – The weight of history packed into every inch of Augusta National can be overwhelming. There isn’t a tee box, fairway, bunker, pine thatched roof, or putting surface where the greats haven’t walked. Where no iconic shots were taken. Where green jackets weren’t won. Or lost.

Collin Morikawa appreciates the lore. acknowledge it. And is aware of the impact this can have on your game.

“You’re showing up for the first time and that happens to a lot of people,” said Morikawa, who will be playing at his third Masters. “They’re like, ‘Oh man, this happened here. That’s what happened here.'”

But the 25-year-old two-time major champion is not going for it. Walking onto the 18th green after a practice round on Monday, caddy JJ Jakovac asked Morikawa if he’d like to recreate Mark O’Meara’s dramatic birdie that conquered the 1998 Masters.

Morikawa only had one question about that.


“What putt? I had no idea which putt (O’Meara) needed to win the Masters,” Morikawa said, laughing. “So he drops the ball and he’s like, ‘Oh, I thought you knew.’ I said, ‘No, I have no idea.’”

It’s not disrespect. It’s more of a choice. He loves the game. He’s just careful not to let it consume him. It’s just not wired that way.

“If I want to have a long career … if golf is 24/7 and I’m studying everything and looking at everything and remembering everything, my head just doesn’t work,” he said.

There are moments that are etched in his memory, notably watching Tiger Woods’ emotional win in 2019. Morikawa joined his Cal teammates in an off-campus home some of them shared, cramming together as many couches as possible, then sat transfixed as Woods captured his fifth title.

Three years later, Morikawa’s point of view will be very different. This is how the bets are made. He arrived in Georgia this week not as a college kid watching the Masters on a giant TV from unknown parts, but as the third-ranked player in the world determined to tackle one of the world’s most famous courses on his terms, mostly because trying to do it differently didn’t work.


Morikawa was repeatedly told he had to consistently draw if he wanted to compete. So he spent his first two Masters playing the ball from right to left, although his preferred shot is a cut that starts on the left and drifts back to the right. He finished the 2020 Masters without patrons and tied in 44th in the fall, and while he improved to 18th last spring, he was never a factor.

He had seen enough. He estimates that the five draws he attempted to hit from the tee in the front nine in 2020 were more than he would typically achieve during a full year. It’s not like he can’t meet anyone. He just would rather not do it, mostly because of what happens when the ball doesn’t go where he wants. If he hits a cut and misses it, he still has a pretty good idea of ​​where it’s going to end up. Not so much when his swing goes one way and the ball goes another.

Augusta is tough enough without overthinking it, and that’s exactly what Morikawa felt throughout his first two trips to the Masters.


“I just made it that much harder trying to hit those shots, which, you know, aren’t my favorite shots,” he said.

Things usually work when Morikawa trusts his instincts, like the cut 3-wood at Harding Park during the final round of the 2020 PGA that established the crucial Eagle and made him a major champion at 23. His near-flawless triumph in the British Open at Royal St George’s last summer made him the first player since Bobby Jones to use eight starts or fewer to win multiple majors.

All of these achievements have raised his profile, his world rankings and his own expectations. He came to Augusta rested after finishing ninth in last month’s Match Play. He feels his game is where it needs to be. When he steps onto the tee on Thursday morning, he’s not thinking about becoming the first player to win consecutive Majors since Jordan Spieth in 2015, or the chance to make history in a place that no one else is happy to embrace .


It will be just him. The ball. And a mission that has remained the same since he first picked up a racquet.

“As if there are so many people who think so much,” he said. “And yes, it works one week, works that other week. But, like, just put the ball in the hole. Figure out how to get it in the hole.”


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Dais Johnston

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