Collin Morikawa, set to play for the third time at the U.S. Open beginning Thursday, vows to take a different approach to the challenging setup at Torrey Pines outside San Diego.
“The way I look at the U.S. Open . . . to be honest, I think I kind of psyched myself out before I even started. That’s never something you want to do,” he said during a media session Tuesday, referring to the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he finished in a tie for 35th, and the 2020 Open at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, NY, where he missed the cut.
The 24-year-old Cal grad went into those two events preoccupied by the deep and thick rough that the USGA cultivates for the Open.
“The two U.S. Opens I’ve played I think I’ve done that, just not setting myself up for success,” he said. “Yeah, I know it’s going to be tough but I look forward to that. I want to embrace that this week.
“Obviously, you’re going to have thick rough. USGA is going to set up the course really tough. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go out and play really well and play some great golf.”
Morikawa has been playing a lot of great golf recently, finishing among the top-20 in five of his past tournaments. He lost in a playoff at the Memorial to Patrick Cantlay two weeks ago and tied for eighth at the PGA Championship in late May.
“The game feels good,” he noted. “I love coming into weeks, especially majors, where you’re just kind of ready to play golf and try to figure out the course and how you’re going to beat it.
Morikawa grew up in Los Angeles but has played Torrey Pines just once. That was at the Farmers Insurance Open last year, where he tied for 21st place but had two rounds of three-under 69.
“This course is tough,” he said. “It’s going to test every part of your game. I think everyone has said that. It’s just a course that’s demanding off the tee, it’s demanding with your approach shots and you’ve got to hit really good putts.”
Morikawa confirmed he had no complications from playing as a partner with Jon Rahm at the Memorial. Rahm, of course, had to withdraw from the event on Saturday night because of a positive COVID-19 test after building a six-stroke lead through three rounds.
“I respected what we needed to do as playing partners. I kept my distance,” he said. Morikawa said he felt fine the next morning. “Going into Sunday all I was trying to do was win.”
He also said Rahm deserved better.
“He was on a level I couldn’t keep up for at least three days. Who knows what could happen Sunday? Building a six-stroke lead through three rounds on that golf course, he was playing some amazing golf,” Morikawa said.
“I gave him a call Sunday night and said I felt gutted for him.”
Morikawa also said he’s excited to be playing again in his home state. His girlfriend will be on hand and his family plans to arrive on Friday.
“We flew in and stepped off the plane and it felt good to breathe California air,” he said. “I don’t care where you are in California, there’s something about it. It feels right. It’s good to be back. You just have good vibes, even though you’re a couple hours from L.A. I love being in California.”
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo