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"Careful Who You Call Rookie" With Collin Morikawa

February 5, 2020

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Morikawa reflects on his breakout PGA Tour campaign and what it's like to compete against his idols/Team TaylorMade compadres.

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Trottie: Podcasters, here we go again for another episode of the Team TaylorMade podcast. Thanks for tuning in and for our new listeners my name is Chris Trott. I work out on the global tour here at TaylorMade servicing the game's greatest players in addition to hosting this podcast and talking golf with a wide range of people. Today's guest is a tour winner in his rookie season and he makes his first appearance on the second series of the podcast. But this is his first time at the photo shoot. So without further delay Collin Morikawa welcome to the podcast. How are you finding the 2020 photo shoot?

Morikawa: Well thank you Trottie. Thanks for having me back. It is awesome. I mean to be here with the group of TaylorMade guys, everyone that helps out whether it be photo shoots or just anything that revolves around TaylorMade. It's really special to be a part of this family and these guys are awesome. I'm learning little things here and there, just having fun with the guys and I couldn't ask for much more.

Trottie: Is it what you expected? And can you explain a little bit to the people listening, what is it in your take being here? I mean we say photo shoot and I think immediately it makes us all think, "Oh it's a bunch of stills and guys standing there." But what is the whole process?

Morikawa: Yeah, I mean I think the first part when we were warming up and then we got to kind of compete against each other. That was the best part for me. We're all competitors at the end of the day and you always kind of want to edge someone else on something a little better. And like hitting stingers underneath a little bar, that got everyone's juices flowing, everyone’s competitiveness going. And that's what's fun for me. Because you don't always get to play with these guys. I haven't played with all of them on the course in a tournament. So to kind of have a little skill competition, see what they do. And even reading greens when we were talking about putting how one guy might read it differently and everyone has their own thing, and that's what it is. That's what makes you good. You got to remember what that is. But it's always good to kind of know what other people do as well.

Trottie: So it's interesting that you touch on the skills test. Obviously it's a combined test. Now for me being a Brit, that's a little alien. But I believe back in the day the quarterback would go and do a combine test and throw it targets. And one of the things I noticed about you and one of the things that stands out as the viewer is how rounded your game is. I mean let's give you some credit here. You won the drone contest, the score contest. I think you were MVP in the team contest there. What gives you this ability when we look at all these different skills, how have you honed that in to be so dialed? Because it's impressive.

Morikawa: I think it goes back to almost how I practice. I'm not just practicing, on the range especially, I'm not just hitting balls and hitting 100 8 irons. Like I'm playing a course in my head, I'm doing different shots, I'm making it fun. And that's what, to be honest, I really have to do that for my short game too. And I don't think I do a good enough job. And that's why my ball striking is so part of my game. And that's kind of who I am so far. And that doesn't mean my short game can't get to where that level is. I just have to be a little more open and be a little more creative. So when you have these challenges, when do you get to see and to hit drones and have little flags moving around? So you got to have fun with it. But I do want to win and no matter what you put me up against and who it is, you know I want to be there winning.

Trottie: Well we put you up against the best players in the world. Tiger Woods is here, Rory's here, DJ, Johnny Rahm. It's cool to see you on the end of the range and you're doing it and you're obviously bantering with your buddy Matt Wolff, who you guys have grown up together. And you see these two guys go all through this college career and then you end up here. Is that a little surreal that someone you've competed with on every level? I mean I'm sure you guys known of each other from a very young age. How's that feel that he's right there? And I saw you both have in the other little chat with one another. And I heard him say something to you about and I sort of said, "Wow, he's decent with his wedges."

And he's like, "Yeah man, he's good with his wedges." It's like you guys know each other pretty well, your game's pretty well.

Morikawa: It's awesome. And it's cool now because I think we're getting even closer. I think in high school, I was a couple of years older than him, so when I went off to college I really didn't know how he was doing in junior golf. I didn't really pay attention to that stuff. And then obviously him coming out freshman year dominating the college game, playing well, winning into his sophomore year. It was kind of cool to like get back with him and play alongside him and see how much he's grown.

Because as junior golfers there still is a lot to learn, especially in college, whether you realize it or not, you know there's little things that you pick up. Just being with other players, being with coaches, being with other friends that you just pick up. And that's what I'm doing here with these guys, I'm just slowly picking things up that is just going to help me down the road. So to see Matt and I kind of come full circle and now we're competing against each other week in, week out it's so much fun. Simple as that. It is just fun.

Trottie: I know you're active on social media. I know you're aware of what goes on. I assume that you've watched these photo shoots on YouTube before and you've seen little clips. Did you always think, "This is going to be in my journey. This is going to live out." Was there ever a point over the last four or five years of college where you're like, "I just got to press on. I've got to work on this. I've got to do that." Or were you're always thinking, "Well, I'm going to get there. The process is going to get me there."

Morikawa: Yeah. I mean ever since I was a little kid and I decided to stop playing baseball, basketball, whatever, I had that dream. I had that vision that I was going to get here at some point. I didn't know when, I didn't know at what point it was going to be. But I knew that if I just kept moving forward, getting better just a little bit every single day we were going to get there. It wasn't going to be easy. There's going to be times that are going to be hard and difficult. But I set a plan and you know, I had four years in college to work on my game, work on my short game, get better, get better every single year. And I think I did. And I felt like those four years were plenty of time for me to get prepped to come out here and start competing on the PGA tour.

Trottie: There's a lot of similarities when I listen to you talk, I was fortunate to sit down with Tiger yesterday. But between you and him, there's similarities in the way you carry yourself and the way you both seem to think about golf swings and think about shots. I mean, I couldn't give a bigger compliment than that from that guy. And I think that's what you have. Being around him and seeing him, I mean, it must impact as well. Have you asked him any questions that you were burning that you wanted to ask him?

Morikawa: You would think that you would have a lot of questions for someone like that, right, and everything he's done. But to me it's just finding the little things that make him think of something a little different. We were talking about putting and how Rory goes putting. And I could see when we were on the range, Tiger was watching everyone. He knew when a good shot was a good shot, not just getting lucky, but he knew when someone would have that shot in their bag. Not just for a little combine, but if you're able to do this. So I was able to just kind of pick little things off. Yeah. I got into kind of how he visualizes shots and whatnot. But for me growing up-

Trottie: What did he say to you about that?

Morikawa: Well, so what I like to do with all this information that I get is just kind of collect it all. And then I kind of just put everyone's into one idea and I kind of figured out myself. See how they put it in their words. But we could look at the same thing and say it's completely two different things and describe it two different ways, right? So that's, I think that's what's interesting about golf is because we're going to look at the same shot but we're going to see a million different shots, everyone, no one's going to see the same shot. Whether it'd be a trajectory and all that. So for me it was just to see how he kind of works through the bag, works through his shots, what he does a little differently. And I think it was cool cause you know Jason Day, I think him and Tiger have a really good relationship and they were kind of giving each other some crap back and forth. But just to watch how they interact, Jason's always trying to learn off of him and I'm just picking up on those things.

Trottie: Triggers as to how you get the most out of someone.

Morikawa: Exactly.

Trottie: Yeah. Talking about getting the most out of things, obviously you've hit SIM. The reason I ask this, because I know that you are a bit more rounded in your answers and I imagine you play golf with your buddies back home or amateur golfers. How do you think they're going to react and the standard goal for the guy that plays once a week going to react to the new product and what they've seen? Is there anything in there that you've hit a few shots and you're like, "Didn't quite get that." And then you look up and the results, "All right, that's playable."

Morikawa: 100%. I think what the new SIM driver the initial reactions are going to be amazing because they're going to look at it. It almost looks like a bigger, stronger piece of a driver with the weight coming in the back. Yeah. It just looks like it's going to go farther. And that's a big thing for people to believe that the driver's going to go farther, not just hope that it's going to go farther. And I think just looking at that, they know that it's going to do that.

Aside from that, when you've set it down, I think a little color change, a little different paint line, it's almost a little lighter, little whiter, grayer on the back. I think that's going to be nice visually for people.

Trottie: And elaborate on paint lines cause that's something that you're very particular. So talk to me about paint lines. What does a paint line do for the common golfer? What is it?

Morikawa: Yeah, I don't think people realize enough that when you set it down a lot has to do with alignment. Yeah. And if you're not aligned correct you're not going to even have a chance to start it online. You want it to fit your eye. And for me, yeah that is really important how big the face is going to look when you set the club down. When you set it on the fairway with a three wood, whether it's a driver teed up, you want all your lines matched up. And I was talking to DJ earlier today and he loves the new paint line on the SIM driver because it squares everything up a little more. And it fits my eye as well. It looks really good aesthetically when you're looking at setting it up.

Trottie: So when we go forward and we look at the tour and we look at your first year on tour, what do you take from that? Was there anything that jumped out that you didn't expect?

Morikawa: Are you talking about the first two months? Are you talking about this first year?

Trottie: Yeah, I'm talking about 2019 is all.

Morikawa: Yeah. So I think a lot for me has to get, how quickly can you adjust to these places? I've haven't played many of these courses, thankfully I've got a pretty veteran caddy, J.J. Jakovac on the bag.

Trottie: Saw that, wise move. How did that come about?

Morikawa: He just reached out to me when we were trying to find a caddy and I couldn't have been happier to have him on the bag. I mean, what he does, everything works out.

Trottie: Had you ever met him?

Morikawa: I had never met him. So I literally talked to him on the phone for 30 minutes.

Trottie: And then how did you come to make the decision, "This could work." Or, "I'm going to give this a one week try"? How'd it go?

Morikawa: I mean we tried it at sectionals and it was just something that I had to trust him on the phone and that's hard to do. I like to meet face to face, see the person, how they react.

Trottie: Do a podcast.

Morikawa: Do a podcast. Yeah, face to face right here. But also the people he had, he had Ryan Moore on the bag and obviously he's a well-respected player and person. And that's something I wanted. I wanted a good guy on the bag. And even though I look like a midget compared to him.

Trottie: Hey, I look like a midget compared to you.

Morikawa: We're closer than what I am to J.J. I'm very lucky to have that.

Trottie: And obviously you have an agent, you have friends. I guess you rely on their input as well, that's important, right? That they know this caddy, because it's friends and people that you trust that are going to help you with that, right.

Morikawa: Definitely. And my girlfriend was saying like, I spend more time with my caddy than I do with anyone else pretty much. We're spending all day together practicing, hitting balls, figuring things out. I think that's what's cool is that this relationship is just going to keep growing and growing. We're going to figure out what works, what doesn't work.

Trottie: And has he brought things in that you didn't expect? Because obviously the initial questions about players, I guess I'm going to new... But as he brought things in that you didn't expect?

Morikawa: I think what's good is that he's been talking to my coach, my swing coach I've been with for 14 years, Rick Sessinghaus for ages. After every tournament I think they talk now. And J.J. sees something that I don't see all the time, he has his input. And we're able just to work those into just one kind of idea for the next event. And it doesn't have to be complex, but I know he's a really good green reader. I trusted him my first day at sectionals telling me to read greens.

Trottie: And what method do you like with reading greens? You an aim point guy or are you visual guy. Because, you've touched on that already. We heard so much yesterday.

Morikawa: For me I'm pretty visual but I do like to feel it in my feet. So I do understand the concept of aim point. I do know how to do it. But for me it's a little too much, I need to see the putt. It's almost like a Jason Day visualizing that, I need to see it all the way go to the hole and J.J. knows my speed, knows how everything works. And think that's great because he quickly found out my shot shape. And to find someone that knows your game really quickly, you know what more could you ask for?

Trottie: Now you talk about shot shape because it transitions nicely into the next bit. I think golf digest wrote an article on you about tinkering with weights. One of their journalists has been on it and they saw that you were in last year. You has a weight set up and then you changed it day to day. I've experienced that firsthand with you that changing is easy for you with equipment. You know what you want, you describe it really well. You can change providing the change is calculated and worth making.

Morikawa: Definitely.

Trottie: Tell me about changing day to day putters or weights and drivers or weight configuration or fairway wood set up, something you're not scared of. So touch a bit more on that for us.

Morikawa: I mean if I have something that's really good and I trust it, there's no need to change. But if there's something better or if something's a little off, I'll have some mishits here and there, whether it be a putter. We were at Safeway, we were messing around with lofts seeing how that rolls, just changing something that's going to make it a little more efficient, a little easier for me, I'm willing to do it. Whether it's something that looks different standing on top of the ball or different sight lines, different weights in a putter. I'm all for that because there's something I haven't found yet that I'm still searching. And I think with irons, like I found that, I know what I like. With other clubs it's still a work in progress.

Trottie: So sometimes with the woods though, the feels can change from day to day.

Morikawa: Definitely. Definitely. And I think for me I had a different driver at the beginning of this new wraparound season that had a little more weight in the heel to straighten everything out. I was fading it too much. And I think you just have to adjust, that's part of golf. I mean, yeah, we would love to go out every day on the range and hit the same shot and feel the same way. But it's just not. We do the stretching, we do the working out, we do the nutrition, watching what we're doing, trying to do kind of the same thing every single week. But everything is just a little different. And that's what's fun.

Trottie: Did that come into your mind when you rack up the couple of top tens and then you go on and get the win? You must have known you're on the right path, but were you thinking, "What do I have to do just a little bit different to go over the line?" Or what was it? I mean, getting the win in the first season? Now, it's almost like, oh yeah, that's accepted. But let's just realize how big that is.

Morikawa: Yeah. I think for me it was just doing what I've been doing. And I keep telling myself that, I keep going back even now after the age of swing and looking back at other events, "What did I do really well in college that I'm doing just a little bit different?" It's not that much, but it's something in there that might be a little bit different. That might be the difference of shooting one or two under or five or six under. I think when I went to that win after the two top tens, I think or top fives maybe.

Trottie: There might have been a top five. I just remember looking at the stats.

Morikawa: It was, "Let's just do the same thing." Like, "I'm right there. If we make a couple more putts, there, we can be on top." And that's what it comes down to for me.

Trottie: And the win at Barracuda came with a lot of family there. I know that your father was a V Steel fan back in the day.

Morikawa: Yeah, that I probably took out of his bag. Someone today had one and I wanted to take it out of the bag and hit it.

Trottie: So I mean obviously that brings us back again to SIM and V Steel coming in. I mean we've got to get your dad hooked up with some SIM fairway woods. If he's an original V Steel guy, it'd sit right in his wheelhouse.

Morikawa: He probably plays maybe once a year.

Trottie: It's all right, that's all good. Get him a little seven wood, he can pinch that thing around. But when it comes to having your family there, what's that feel like? I mean, it must be awesome. You've won, but it's not like your first win has come miles away from home and it's just you and your caddy, which is cool as well. But having them there?

Morikawa: Super special. I mean to be kind of close to home, close enough for a quick flight. They don't make it out too much. They like the big events they'll go to the ones that like the US open, my first major, there'll be there, or they were there. They'll go to the nice trips like Hawaii where we do have a lot of family.

Trottie: Does your dad play golf when he goes there.?

Morikawa: No.

Trottie: I mean, sounds like we've got to get him out in the course a bit.

Morikawa: No, we're ocean people we’ll go out in the ocean. We love swimming. My dad loves the ocean. I have a younger brother who's 16 who I think is slowly realizing what I've done now, obviously growing up with me being that age gap I was in college, he was still in high school and I don't get to see him as much. But when he is able to travel, when I'm home, it's just fun to kind of hang out with him. Because he's old enough now to do things that like he wasn't able to do when he was eight or nine and I was 14, 15, 16. So yeah, having them there, having my girlfriend even travel with me everywhere just makes things so much easier.

Trottie: And celebrating the wins. How did you celebrate? How does Collin Morikawa celebrate a victory?

Morikawa: On a regular seat flight to Wyndham championship the next week.

Trottie: That seems to be the pattern. I mean, you get the win and it's just on and on and on.

Morikawa: Yeah. I mean, I don't think I was able to really embrace the win until after I got knocked out at BMW in the playoffs. And I still, yeah I'm embracing it but I'm ready for the next thing. What is next for me? And I and yeah, it was awesome to win, but I am ready for what's next. Having the schedule I'm able to make this year. I'm looking forward to a lot of events.

Trottie: Is next, being an ocean guy, Tiger has a connection with free diving, is that something you want to try? You touch on being an ocean guy in that side of your life. Is there anything there that you think, "Okay, now boating, fishing." Is there anything you really want to get into to get away from golf?

Morikawa: To get away from golf. Yeah, I mean I love the ocean. I've never been scuba diving and that free diving stuff.

Trottie: But it's appealing?

Morikawa: I could be into it. Yeah. I mean I love swimming. We were going back to Hawaii family vacation. We swam out just a long ways out from the ocean. We drove out in the morning, looked for dolphins and we just swam out and swam with them. I mean, how cool is that?

Trottie: Yeah.

Morikawa: So for me it's just still being competitive, playing basketball with friends, doing other things. But hey, I'm open to it. I love the adventure.

Trottie: So you touched on building on the future, obviously. What is the future 2020 for Collin Morikawa and beyond? Where do you set your targets? It feels to me like thus far everything's going so well. How do you go like right, "Have the goals changed"? You've won in your rookie year, which is phenomenal. You'd say you've learned so much, but how did things change? What's the reset? And is it bigger now because of this first season you've had?

Morikawa: Yeah, I think the first thing is to be a little more consistent with everything, contend a little more. In college I was able to rack up, I don't know how many top fives in a row my senior year at least. And that's what I kind of want to get to. These guys that we're here with at the TaylorMade photo shoot with, these guys are able to contend no matter when they tee it up. And that's what I want to get to. And I think I'm able to get there. It's just working on little things. It's not changing a lot.

You can kind of tweak little things here and there whether it be the club or the setup or with chipping and putting and pitching and wedges. That's where I'm going to get dialed in. And I got a track man at the Vegas event this year. Something I know DJ has worked a lot and I think my game can get a lot better there. Save a few shots here and there in a tournament. And there you go from whether it be 30th place to top 10.

Trottie: So it's process. When I see you hit the combine stuff as a European, what I worry about, and it's fair that we bring this up, I am going to go there with my mind, but Ryder Cup, you would be an unbelievable foursomes partner for someone just because of how consistent you are. I mean, I touched on it in here yesterday with Rory and I'm like, "That guy, we might have a problem." So when it comes to, do you the allow yourself to go there mentally? Because it seems like you don't and I'm trying to push you there.

Morikawa: Yeah, I know. And I think a lot of people have. Even talking about President's Cup. I realize that's past me and I just didn't do enough the past month and a half. But hey, to even be a small consideration at some point this summer was awesome. But yeah, it's a goal, it is there. But it's not something that's highlighting and determining how I'm going to play on the course. And I think I'm going to make sure, and I hope you keep reminding me to be like that, because you can definitely get ahead of yourself. Like in college, I didn't want to get ahead of myself about turning pro. I wanted to worry about that tournament. How I was going to do, try and win that week. This summer was I think the most important for me to remember that if I got ahead of myself, I could be at second stage right now.

Trottie: You're a cool customer. I don't feel like you get ahead of yourself. And right now you seem to have your feet firmly on the ground with it all. So I mean it's time for the speed injected questions, see if you can not get ahead of yourself on me.

Morikawa: Fire away.

Trottie: You dealt with it well last time, from what I remember. Torrey Pines or Bethpage?

Morikawa: I've played neither. So Bethpage.

Trottie: You played either of them on a computer game?

Morikawa: Yeah, of course.

Trottie: You've watched them on TV.

Morikawa: Who hasn't. Bethpage.

Trottie: Would you rather lead the tour in strokes gained off the tee or strokes gained putting?

Morikawa: Strokes gained putting.

Trottie: The one course you could play every day for the rest of your life.

Morikawa: Augusta National, haven't played yet.

Trottie: LeBron or Kawhi?

Morikawa: LeBron.

Trottie: Window or aisle?

Morikawa: Window. Wow, you got me there. I need the headrest.

Trottie: Number of career hole in ones.

Morikawa: Three.

Trottie: What would you shoot lefty?

Morikawa: Mid-eighties I think I can get to 80. From what tee?

Trottie: Well I guess you know, just a six, eight 7,000 members course.

Morikawa: Yeah, we can squeeze something under 90.

Trottie: I like that. DJ came in punchy under a hundred and everyone was like, "Oh." You're going under 90 I like it, yeah.

Morikawa: I mean I've never tried it so who knows.

Trottie: You got it. Favorite TV or Netflix show right now.

Morikawa: Oh wow. My caddy got me into watching this terrible offensive cartoon called, Big Mouth. If you don't know it, you can go watch it.

Trottie: Okay. It's good?

Morikawa: It's made for children that are learning about sexuality and everything-

Trottie: Sounds like..

Morikawa: ... growing up. It's hilarious.

Trottie: Yeah, just childish humor.

Morikawa: Yeah, exactly.

Trottie: Mallet or blade guy?

Morikawa: Both. But whatever is working for that day.

Trottie: We know the answer to this one beach or the mountains?

Morikawa: Beach.

Trottie: And then the one shot in your career, which we're going to go pre PGA tour if you want to you might not have any in your career, which you wish you could have a mulligan on?

Morikawa: Pre PGA tour?

Trottie: No. Any in PGA tour pre-PGA tour.

Morikawa: Any shot?

Trottie: Any shot in your whole golfing life that you wish you could have a mulligan on?

Morikawa: I don't know. There's a lot of golf we've played.

Trottie: But I mean, the fact that there's not one is a good thing.

Morikawa: Let me go back. Okay. I'll go back to 3M the last putt 18, I think I'd read it a little better instead of hitting it just a fraction low. Why not?

Trottie: No, of course. Collin always great to sit down with you. I think we hit it every time. Very balanced. Going to be a great player going forward. I think you're going to be an excellent pro with a super long career out of you and you're always good value, good fun. So thanks for coming on the Team TaylorMade podcast.

Morikawa: Thanks Trottie.

Trottie: Guys, if you want to follow on Instagram, it's @collin_morikawa, two Ls, myself @trottiegolf. I'll be following the boys around all year and trying to capture as much equipment and stuff as we can @TaylorMadeGolf for Instagram with TaylorMade can be found SoundCloud, Spotify, iTunes, all the usual places. Give us your feedback. I hope you like what you're hearing. Rate us five stars, if you do. Any questions for the next time round, we would love to hear them. Thanks for tuning in. Until next time. Cheers guys.