Defending PGA Champion Collin Morikawa previews Kiawah Island at Media Day
Collin Morikawa wowed golf fans when he earned a scintillating two-stroke victory in the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park – his PGA Championship debut.
On Monday, following a T18 in the Masters over the weekend, the 24-year-old made the short trip southeast to Kiawah Island, S.C., to get his first look at The Ocean Course at Media Day ahead of the 2021 PGA Championship.
“I think it's definitely a ball striker's course,” said Morikawa, the No. 4-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking. “You have to be able to control your ball. You have to be able to flight different shots, work it left to right, right to left, and that kind of suits me. Greens are pretty small, but man, talk about that back nine, starting from hole 9 and on, it's a very good finishing stretch of golf, especially with the wind, the way it picked up. You're going to be tested on every shot.”
Since Morikawa’s victory in the COVID-19 delayed PGA Championship that took place three months later than scheduled last August, he’s managed four more top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, highlighted by a victory in March at the WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession.
That win, impressively, was the fourth of his PGA Tour career which only began in the summer of 2019.
One thing that has been different lately is more and more fans have been attending PGA Tour events. That’s something Morikawa is especially excited about when thinking ahead to his title defense, seeing as there were no fans admitted at TPC Harding Park due to ongoing concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We love it,” Morikawa said. “It's good to see a few people out here just enjoying the day, but they're like the life and they're the energy that they bring to this event. To see grandstands slowly being built over the next month, it'll be exciting to see what 17, what 18 are going to look like because we haven't seen that many stands. We haven't seen that many people. But we do miss them. I missed them a lot. It was fun for about a month just kind of doing our own thing, not caring if you walk through the ropes or whatever. But it's so enjoyable to see because they love the game. They're excited to see us play good golf, and they're going to see some really interesting shots for this week.”
Though Monday marked his first look at Kiawah’s Ocean Course, Morikawa admitted there was nothing that caught him off guard at the place that last hosted a major when Rory McIlroy won the 2021 PGA Championship
“Nothing surprised me because I didn't really have any thoughts about what I was going to expect out here,” he said. “But the wind, the wind picked up the last hour and a half, two hours, and those final few holes, even though it was downwind, does not play easy. You get the greens, I'm sure they're going to be a little firmer, a little faster. It's not going to be easy to stop shots, whether it's with a wedge or a 4-iron.”
With the PGA Championship just over one month away, Morikawa is happy with where his game is at.
“Yeah, actually the game feels really good,” he said. “The game felt really good after the win at the WGC-Workday at Concession. Still a few things I need to tweak here and there, but I've got a couple weeks. Game at Augusta felt really good, just made too many mistakes. Out there mistakes are going to happen, but I can't be giving away shots like I did, but I learned a lot out there. We're peaking at a good time, and we're really looking forward to this kind of next few months of golf because there's a lot of good golf to be played.”