A week ago Sunday at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, Collin Morikawa lost a playoff and won $1 million.
It was the two-year anniversary of the first round of professional golf he ever played. And while the 24-year-old Cal grad no doubt was disappointed he was unable to secure victory, the occasion also put a spotlight on the success he’s already forged.
Now, as Morikawa prepares to play this week in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines outside San Diego, a few highlights of his first two years as a professional athlete:
— He has won four tournaments, starting with the Barracuda Championship in his sixth pro tournament. A year later, he won his first major, the 2020 PGA Championship.
— He has 16 top-10 finishes in 49 career events.
— His performance at Muirfield Village two weeks ago elevated him to No. 4 in the world rankings, matching his highest spot on the list. He has been among the top seven in every ranking since last August. Not bad for a guy who was No. 1,039 after his pro debut at the RBC Canadian Open in June 2019.
— He climbed to No. 3 in the Olympic Golf Rankings, second among Americans behind Justin Thomas. The top four Americans will play in Tokyo this summer.
— He is eighth on the 2021 PGA money list, having won $4,382,592. His career total, spanning portions of three seasons but impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic: $11,388,350.
So how does the start to Morikawa’s professional career compare to those of other top former Cal athletes? Judge for yourself:
SHAREEF ABDUR-RAHIM (NBA: 1996-97 & 1997-98): Was the Sporting News Rookie of the Year and averaged 20.5 points over his first two seasons, including 22.3 his second season. But his contributions didn’t add up to much — the Vancouver Grizzlies were 33-131 over two seasons.
KEENAN ALLEN (NFL: 20013 & 2014): Caught 148 passes for 1,829 yards and 12 touchdowns his first two seasons. He had nine games of at least 100 receiving yards his first two seasons. Allen also averaged 8.6 yards on 26 punt returns those two seasons. Made the 2013 NFL All-Rookie team.
STEVE BARTKOWSKI (NFL: 1975 & 1976): The No. 1 overall NFL draft pick, Bartkowski started all 16 games he played his first two seasons, completing 45.9 percent of his pass attempts for 2,339 yards with 15 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. Agent Leigh Steinberg’s first client, Bartkowski had a 5-11 record as a starter, but was voted the NFL’s co-Offensive Rookie of the Year and the NFC Rookie of the Year.
JAYLEN BROWN (NBA: 2016-17 & 2017-18): One-and-done at Cal and an All-Star in his fifth season this year, Brown averaged 6.6 points as a rookie with the Boston Celtics, then bumped that to 14.5 a year later. Over his final 11 games his second year Brown averaged 17.3 points, including a 32-point performance vs.the Chicago Bulls.
PHIL CHENIER (NBA: 1971-72 & 1972-73): Chosen by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1971 NBA supplemental hardship draft, Chenier averaged 12.3 points to earn first-team All-Rookie honors in 1972. He improved to 19.7 points per game his second season. Chenier went on to average 17.2 points over 10 NBA seasons.
JARED GOFF (NFL: 2016 & 2017): The No. 1 overall draft pick, Goff was 0-7 as a starter his rookie season, but 11-4 a year later when he passed for 3,804 yards with 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He made the Pro Bowl that season after compiling five 300-yard passing games and twice throwing four touchdowns in a game.
TONY GONZALEZ (NFL: 1997 & 1998): Drafted in the first round by the Kansas City Chiefs, the future Hall of Famer caught 33 passes as a rookie, then 59 his second season. He snared two touchdown passes each season. The former two-sport Cal star went on to become the NFL’s most prolific NFL tight end.
DeSEAN JACKSON (NFL: 2008 & 2009): Caught 62 passes in each of his first two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, producing 1,156 yards and nine touchdowns in Year 2. Jackson also returned three punts for touchdowns those two seasons, leading the NFL with an average of 15.2 yards per return in 2009. He made the 2008 All-Rookie team and was a Pro Bowl selection in '09.
JACKIE JENSEN (MLB: 1950 & 1951): The former two-sport All-American with the Bears and future American League MVP with the Red Sox played his first two major league seasons with the Yankees. The problem was Joe DiMaggio was the starting center fielder and Mickey Mantle arrived in ’51. Jensen batted .171 in 45 games as a rookie, improved to .298 a year later but was traded before the 1952 season.
KEVIN JOHNSON (NBA: 1987-88 & 1988-89): KJ played for Cleveland and Phoenix as a rookie, averaging 9.2 points and 5.5 assists. He blossomed in Year 2 with the Suns, averaging 20.4 points and 12.2 assists while helping the franchise to the Western Conference finals. He was voted to the All-NBA second team and named the league’s Most Improved Player in 1989.
JEFF KENT (MLB: 1992 & 1993): Before he was the National League MVP with the Giants, Kent batted .258 with 32 home runs and 130 RBIs with the Blue Jays and Mets in his first two season. He hit 21 of those homers his second season with New York.
JASON KIDD (NBA: 1994-95 & 1995-96): The future Hall of Famer averaged 14.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 2.0 steals over 160 games with the Dallas Mavericks. He was co-Rookie of the Year with Grant Hill in 1995 and an All-Star Game starter his second season, dishing out 10 assists. Kidd had 10 points, 9 rebounds and 11 assists in his NBA debut and assembled his first triple-double (19-10-12) in a win over the Lakers as a rookie.
MARSHAWN LYNCH (NFL: 2007 & 2008): Started all 28 games he played for the Buffalo Bills, rushing for more than 1,000 yards each sesaon. His two-year totals: 2,151 yards with 15 touchdowns. Lynch made the 2007 All-Rookie team and earned the first of his five Pro Bowl selections the next year.
ANDY MESSERSMITH (MLB: 1968 & 1969): The right-hander was 20-13 his first two seasons, including 16-11 with a 2.52 earned run average and 211 strikeouts in ’69. He also led the majors with 16 wild pitches that season.
CRAIG MORTON (NFL: 1965 & 1966): Played in 10 games, starting one, for the Dallas Cowboys, completing 30 of 61 passes for 398 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions. His best days with the Cowboys and Denver Broncos were in his future.
CHUCK MUNCIE (NFL: 1976 & 1977): Started 22 of 26 games for the New Orleans Saints, totaling 1,470 rushing yards with eight touchdowns and catching 52 passes for 520 yards and another TD. Named to the 1976 NFL All-Rookie team.
AARON ROGERS (NFL: 2005 & 2006): Sitting behind Brett Favre, Rodgers saw action in just five games his first two seasons, completing 15 of 31 pass attempts for 111 yards with no touchdowns and on interception.
WESLEY WALKER (NFL: 1977 & 1978): The fleet wide receiver burst onto the NFL scene, starting all 30 games he played with the New York Jets. He made the 1977 All-Rookie team and was All-Pro in ’78 when he led the league with 1,169 receiving yards and a 24.4-yards-per-catch average. He caught 83 passes for 1,909 yards and 11 TDs his first two seasons.
Cover photo of Collin Morikawa by Brad Penner, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo