Collin Morikawa admits he’s no student of golf history, and the two-time Major champion says that can be an advantage at The Masters where the weight of the past can be overwhelming.
The 25-year-old American has more than proved he’s got the game for Major tournaments. He followed his 2020 PGA Championship victory with a triumph at the 2021 Open at Royal St George’s – becoming the only golfer to win two Major titles in his first attempt at each.
He’ll be teeing it up for the third time Augusta National on Thursday, and said on Monday he’s figured out that what he needs to do to contend is focus on his own game, and not the fabled course or the myriad memorable moments it has produced.
“I think the biggest thing is, I need to play my game,” Morikawa said. “You hear how much you need to hit draws, and you have to hit it high and you have to do certain things, but that’s what I did wrong the past two years.
“This year I just made sure everything was finely tuned and I go out there [to practise] and figure out how to play the course to my strengths.
“Speed and putting is going to be really key out here. You can’t be hitting things three feet, five feet, six feet by and three-putting.”
From the floral fireworks of azalea and dogwood blooms to Magnolia Lane and the presentation of the Green Jacket in Butler Cabin, the Masters is steeped in tradition.
And the course that flows under towering pines has produced a litany of legendary champions.
Morikawa, who was two months old when Woods won his historic first Masters title in 1997, said the Augusta campaign he remembers most is Woods’ stunning fifth victory in 2019 to claim a 15th Major championship and cement his return from spinal-fusion surgery.
“I’m not really zoned in on focusing on every shot, but 2019 was where we were all just glued to the couch and glued to the TV,” Morikawa said of following the tournament with his college golf teammates – a year before he would make his own debut.
But Morikawa doesn’t see others’ past glories when he walks Augusta National.
He has picked the brain of former champions like Mark O’Meara, but said that unlike practice partner JJ Spaun he couldn’t have recreated O’Meara’s winning putt.
“Don’t take it the wrong way,” Morikawa said, “I respect the sport fully. I just want to win. I want to be out here. I want to make history.”
© Agence France-Presse