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Monday morning, as the remains of Tropical Storm Henri continued to hinder the PGA Tour’s efforts to complete the Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, Collin Morikawa was 191 miles southwest, in Owing Mills, Maryland. Instead of slogging around the a soaked course, he was looking forward to a quality practice session.
The 24-year-old entered last week ranked No. 1 on the FedEx Cup point list, but he missed the cut at the Northern Trust after shooting 74-70, so he will begin the second event of the FedEx Cup playoffs, the BMW Championship, in a slightly-lower position. But if the former All-American at the University of California-Berkeley needed some cheering up this weekend, he could pour the milk over his favorite food, breakfast cereal, using the Claret Jug he won by capturing the 2021 British Open at Royal St. Georges last month. One percent milk, please.
Morikawa spoke with Golfweek before heading to Caves Valley Golf Club for his workout.
The TaylorMade P-7MC worked through the links turf more effectively for Morikawa than the P-7MB. (Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports)
DUSEK: You won the WGC-Workday Challenge earlier this year with a blended set of irons. Then you made some changes before the start of the British Open. At the Northern Trust, you changed your setup again. Are you really picky about your irons or do you change your set based on the course MORIKAWA: Earlier at the WGC, I had the TayorMade P-730s in as a combo set with the P-7MC. I used them all the way through the Scottish Open, the same setup, except I added the 4-iron, the P-770. It helped me to get a little more height, a little more launch. I needed the distance gap worked out just a little bit better, but that's been great. Move over to the Open Championship (the following week) and I wasn't hitting my P-730s great out of the turf. I couldn't figure out why, and it was a shot in the dark to throw some P-7MCs in. I was hitting my 6- and 5-irons great. I just tried some of the shorter irons. I worked it out with one of the PGA Tour reps from TaylorMade (Adrian Rietveld) on the range Tuesday and they felt great. I didn't know exactly why, but I was able to hit it better and swing it better. I was swinging the way I always did and the ball was reacting the same exact way. That's always a good sign when that happens.
Collin Morikawa's TaylorMade irons. (David Dusek/Golfweek)
But that was a one-time thing. For me, I couldn't figure out the turf out there in Europe and England. So, I had to figure out a reason and what to do. Thankfully, we're back here in the states, so the P-730s that I love, are back. I still feel more in control with them. I can work the ball more with them, which is fitting to my eyes. Putting them back in play was a no-brainer right after the Open.
Strokes gained approach the green vs. 2006 Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods at the 2006 PGA Championship. (Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports)
You led the PGA Tour in strokes gained approach the green this season with an average of 1.395. In 2006, Tiger Woods averaged 2.072. You are uniquely qualified to appreciate that amazing statistic. Do fans and people in the media appreciate how well Tiger was playing at that time? Yeah, that's amazing. When you are gaining over two strokes over an entire season, you know ... I think about the past few weeks in Memphis and last week when I haven't been hitting it as well. Looking back at gaining two strokes per round, you're getting so many 10- to 20-footers for birdie that when you are putting as well as he did, you are going to dominate the game. And that's why he dominated for such a long time. When you are gaining that many strokes on approach, it's not like you are doing anything crazy. You are not hitting every shot to 3 feet. You might have a tap-in here or there throughout 18 holes, but you are having so many birdie opportunities from that 10- to 20-foot range, you're just going to start making a few when you are that good.
Collin Morikawa's TaylorMade long-neck Juno putter. (David Dusek/Golfweek)
You recently switched from a mallet to a blade-style putter. What made you decide to change? Yeah, I was using a TaylorMade FCG earlier this year and it sat alright. Then, obviously, I switched to the saw putting grip, but it just wasn't sitting perfectly. I think the best putters, when they put their putter down, it sits perfect to their eyes. They don't have to adjust their body, then don't have to do anything. The putter just wasn't sitting exactly right. I knew this Juno long-neck blade that I have been using, in the past always sat great to my eyes. I had TaylorMade build another one, then add a little more loft on it so I could have that little forward press with the saw grip and it's been working. I add a little more weight at the Open on those slow greens and it has been great ever since.
Not changing drivers
Collin Morikawa plays his shot from the second tee during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course. (Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)
You have been playing the original SIM driver nearly all year. Usually, guys will move into the new drivers shortly after they are released. Is the SIM just a perfect fit for you? I did a bunch of testing last fall and into early this year. I had (SIM2) in the bag in Hawaii and played with it in Dubai, but to be honest, when you have a club and you know what it's going to do, it's hard to go away from that. It's nothing against the SIM2, I know a lot of guys are hitting it really well, but I love to take out the left side of the golf course. That's what I do, cutting the ball, and with the SIM2 sometimes I was not able to take it out as much as I loved. It was hard to get the weighting that I needed and get the right feel. So sometimes that happens with a driver and TaylorMade understood and was very gracious in letting me stick with this SIM driver because it's worked. For me, as a cutter of the golf ball, I'd rather have it overcut than start drawing. We'll work it out down the road for whatever the next driver might be.
https://twitter.com/Golfweek_Dusek/status/1207720333647720449 In December 2019 I got a holiday card from TaylorMade. It had Tiger Woods on it, and Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy ... and you with Matthew Wolff. Was it surreal to be asked to take part in that photoshoot at age 22? Absolutely! Thankfully, I had already met every one of those guys and talked with them, but that was the first thing. We woke up at 6:00 in the morning and are just getting into a onesy suit with these guys. It is surreal to think that two and a half years ago I was walking down the aisle and graduating from Cal.