Sept. 21-26, 2021 Whistling Straits, Kohler, WI

COLLIN MORIKAWA


Residence: Las Vegas, Nevada
Age: 24
World Ranking: 3
Ryder Cup ranking: 1
Ryder Cup appearances: First appearance
U.S. Ryder Cup record: First appearance

Eleven short months ago Collin Morikawa was both excited and nervous to play a practice round with U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker. It was on the eve of the 2020 PGA Championship at Harding Park, and Morikawa, a young, promising upstart at the time with two PGA Tour victories under his belt, was being mentioned as someone who could potentially play his way onto Team USA.

“He told me, ‘Let's go play at the PGA,’ and of course I'm going to book that into my schedule,” Morikawa said of Stricker in August 2020. “To play with him and Davis Love was pretty special. Kind of just watch him play golf, because I love the way his short game goes, his approach shots, his chipping and putting, and just trying to learn off these guys.”

By the end of the week, five days later, Morikawa had shot 65-64 over the weekend and was hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy. He’s since won a World Golf Championship, The Open at Royal St. George’s (while holding off a star-studded leaderboard), vaulted to No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking and has automatically qualified for the American squad at Whistling Straits as one of the top six in U.S. standings.

Since that day in San Francisco with Stricker, Morikawa has become the first man in history to win two different major championship debuts. Heady stuff.

What Morikawa brings to the team

Flexibility. Calmness. Consistency. He’s also widely recognized as having the best iron game in the world.

You’re going to hear this a lot as we creep closer to the matches, but it’s hard to envision anyone not jumping at the opportunity to play alongside Morikawa, especially after his unflappable performance at The Open. He has all the tools to play well this year, in all formats, and for a long time to come in team competitions for the Americans.

On the PGA Tour this year, Morikawa is ranked first in both strokes gained: tee-to-green and strokes gained: approach-the-green, he’s seventh in strokes gained: total and first in birdies, averaging 4.47 per round.

To encapsulate: Morikawa is a great ball-striker, hits an overabundance of greens and makes a lot of birdies. It’s a lethal combination.

Ideal partnerships

Outside of his recent stint for Team USA at the Olympics, Morikawa has not played in a team competition for the United States as a professional, so these are only educated guesses, but the aforementioned paragraphs of this article tell you all you need to know; everyone is fair game for him.

Justin Thomas will likely play with Jordan Spieth, but there often comes a time during the week where power couples split just to see if each member of the duo can thrive with someone else. If that happens, Justin Thomas and Morikawa would be a dynamic group.

Similarly, Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay will likely play together, if both make the team. If they happen to split during a session, or one of the two needs more of a break, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see Morikawa play alongside Schauffele.

Options here for Morikawa will not be limited and throwing a rookie headfirst into the foursomes format shouldn’t remotely be a problem.

Past results

There are no past results in the Ryder Cup for Morikawa, but he was a member of the 2017 U.S. Walker Cup team that easily defeated Great Britain & Ireland, 19-7, at Los Angeles Country Club.

Morikawa went 4-0 that week with none of his matches reaching the last hole. He paired with Norman Xiong to win their opening foursomes match 8 and 7.

As a Ryder Cup rookie, Morikawa obviously has never lost one, which counts for something. Morikawa is excited to be playing his first and he’s more excited that it’ll be at home. All the elements point toward him having a successful maiden voyage.

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