Don’t let Collin Morikawa’s smile, easy-going demeanor fool you

Don’t let Collin Morikawa’s smile, easy-going demeanor fool you

NORTON, Mass. — If a sports psychologist is waiting by the phone and hoping to get a call from Collin Morikawa, pal, that phone is not going to ring.

Two weeks ago at TPC Harding Park, Morikawa, 23, played the round of his life in just his second career major championship. His Sunday 64 was filled with more clutch than Porsche dealership. Before the wheels could come off, he made a par-saving 25-footer on the first hole. When things were tight, he pitched-in from 40 feet short of the green on the 14th. The masterpiece came at the 16th, a 294-yard par-4. Morikawa hit a high cut around a tree and hit the green, setting up an 8-foot eagle putt that slammed the door on Paul Casey, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day.

Don’t let the smile and easy-going demeanor fool you folks, this kid is cold-blooded.

Morikawa is at TPC Boston this week, the sight of the Northern Trust, ranked No. 2 on the FedEx Cup point list. He has won twice this season and is virtually assured of a spot in the Tour Championship.

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If it feels like Morikawa’s ascension into the elite of professional golf has been fast, you’re right. The former University of California star made his professional debut at the 2019 RBC Canadian Open and not only made the cut, but he also tied for 14th. He’s only missed one cut in his career, at the 2020 Travelers Championship in June, a week before winning the Workday Charity Open.

As reliable as he is inside the ropes, he appears to be every bit as solid between the ears.

“The focus I had for all 18 holes (Sunday), really, throughout the PGA Championship, that final round, was something that I’ve had before, but it was almost a little different,” he said Tuesday. “I was so focused on what I was doing, every single shot. (Now) it’s how do I learn and how do I get to that state again. Can I tell you the exact secret? No, because I’m still trying to figure out. What are keys that brought me there is what I talked about with my coach.”

If Morikawa can crack the secret of getting into the zone like he cracks iron shots, golfers on the PGA Tour are in trouble. He ranks second on Tour in strokes gained approach the green (1.044) and 23rd in greens in regulation (70.24 percent).

Collin Morikawa takes a sip of a Memorial Tournament milkshake, given only to the winner this week, while holding the championship trophy after winning a three-hole playoff against Justin Thomas in the final round of the Workday Charity Open. Photo by Adam Cairns/The Columbus Dispatch via USA TODAY NETWORK

While he may be a marksman with mid-irons, Morikawa is not long off the tee, but that does not bother him.

“I don’t think distance has hurt me. It doesn’t help me as much as (someone like) Bryson and the guys that hit it out there top 10 in distance, but it hasn’t hurt me,” he said. “Obviously, I feel the strength of my game are my irons and approach shots, so if I can take advantage of that, yeah, I’d want to have an 8-iron instead of a 6-iron, but I still very, very comfortable with a 6-iron in my head.”

This is his first time to TPC Boston, and so far, he likes what he sees.

“I played the front nine yesterday and played the back nine today, and I love it. I think it’s a great course,” Morikawa said. “There are some holes, a lot of ballstriker-approach shot holes, with greens that have a lot of undulation, a lot of run-offs in certain areas and thick rough, thick fescue. So for me, I think it’s going to be great.”

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