Morikawa chips onto the second green during the second round of the Barracuda Championship at Montreux Country Club on July 26, 2019 in Reno, Nevada. on July 26, 2019, in Reno, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
By E. Michael Johnson
Collin Morikawa is one of a number of outstanding young players coming to the PGA Tour in the last few months, along with 3M Open winner Matthew Wolff, Justin Suh and Viktor Hovland. Like Wolff, Morikawa is a TaylorMade staffer and also like Wolff, he is now a PGA Tour winner, having captured his first PGA Tour win at the Barracuda Championship in just his fourth start as a professional. Golf Digest equipment editor E. Michael Johnson spoke with Morikawa about his equipment, the key change he made to his driver and why his wedges have breakfast foods stamped on them.
At the Travelers you mentioned you’ve played TaylorMade the majority of your life. How much did not having to make wholesale changes to your equipment help your transition to the tour?
Just as much as we believe in ourselves, we have to believe in the products and clubs we use. To know that I’ve been with the company for so long as a junior and to keep using what I had been using in college, it’s a tremendous help. You know how things are going to react, and how certain shots you’re going to hit again and again with the clubs react. There’s a trust there and it’s another factor you don’t have to worry about.
On the final hole yesterday you made good use of the GAPR Lo utility club off the tee. When did you put that club in and what do you like about that club versus other utility irons?
I put it in when they first came out with it last year before the British Open. I immediately fell in love with it. A lot of guys don’t like to have such a large gap with their driving iron, but I do. I’m able to control it into greens and get some height and spin from say 230 to 235 yards, but off the tee if I need it to go 270 or 280 where it lands at 250 and rolls out, I have that club in the bag, too. I feel it’s the most versatile thing. I think I’ve been able to find the right combination of loft and shaft [18 degrees, Mitsubishi Tensei White 100TX] to fit every shot I need on par 5s or even short par 4s. It’s really worked out. I’m very happy with that club.
One of my favourite pastimes is scouring Getty Images and trying to see what changes players have made. It looks like you shifted the weights from where one was fairly up front at the 3M Open, to having both pretty far back at the Barracuda. Why the adjustment and do you tend to move things around and take advantage of a club’s adjustable features?
Props to you for finding that. I don’t think anyone else would have noticed that. When I had the week off after John Deere, I had been hitting it OK off the tee, but not great. I was missing some that were going a little too far right for me. When I moved those weights back it added just a little more spin. It might have been a mental thing, but I felt like I had a little more control. The misses didn’t knuckle out to the right as much. When I was testing and playing around with it during my week off, it just felt a little better. I do like to tinker here and there a little bit. At the 3M my caddie looked at me and we were hitting some of the same shots with my 3-wood. During the practice round I hit some push/fades that just looked like they didn’t have enough spin, so we moved the adjustable hosel to a little higher loft before the tournament and it’s worked out. I don’t mind tinkering as long as I know what I had before and I know what it’s going to do. Initial launch angles and seeing what I want to see when I first hit the ball is so important. If it comes off in a completely different window I’m going to feel a little uneasy about it. But if it’s in that window and it’s better, I’m all for making a tweak.
You use a split set of irons [Callaway Apex Pro in the 4- and 5-irons) and the rest TaylorMade’s P730 muscle back blades—what about the blades do you like over a more forgiving club?
I switched to the blades last fall and it was the first time I’ve put blades in play in a long time. What I found was that I was able to control the ball a lot more. I was able to work the ball and the contact felt so much more solid. I love working the ball left and right, especially my fades. But I can play it right-to-left , too. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made because I was using a pretty big cavity-back, the TaylorMade RSi’s, for a few years before that. It only took a couple weeks to get adjusted to the P730s. It was a quick transition. I put them in after last year’s U.S. Amateur and right before the World Amateur and had some good results.
On your wedges, do you do anything to the grinds and also, what’s the background on the stampings on them?
I had a TaylorMade Hi-Toe that put in for the U.S. Open and Travelers that was amazing for those couple of weeks when the rough was up and we did add a different grind, putting some relief on the leading edge top prevent it from digging. So I’ve been going back and forth a little. As for the stampings on my wedges [Titleist Vokey SM7’s], I do have some breakfast items stamped on there [Eggs Benedict, Sourdough Toast, Bacon, Hash Browns among them]. I’m guessing that’s what you’re alluding to. My girlfriend and I thought it would be fun to put on there. We love our food and all meals of the day and we’re just foodies. We love being able to travel and try some new food spots on the road.
Love the smell of wedges in the morning.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 29, 2019
Have you spoken with Matthew Wolff since his win and did seeing him win so quickly give you some added confidence you could do the same?
I actually saw him before checking into the hotel yesterday. I think we’re both happy for each other. We’ve worked hard and we wanted this to happen. You never know when this stuff will happen in your professional career, so for us to get these starts and making something out of them is really special. I don’t think him winning told me I could do it. I had played well in Canada and proved to myself that I was capable of doing it. After the second-place finish at 3M I knew I could put myself in contention if I played smart and played my game and have four solid, good days. That propelled my confidence into the next week at the John Deere [T-4 finish] and then obviously at Barracuda I had a very good week. I just have complete belief in myself that I could do it and I have from day one.