Collin Morikawa: Open champion sets demanding targets for 2022

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Collin Morikawa
Morikawa is in Abu Dhabi for the DP World Tour’s season-opening HSBC Championship

Collin Morikawa has set demanding targets for 2022, including defending the Claret Jug at the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews in July.

The American, 24, won The Open on his debut, as he did when winning his other major, the 2020 US PGA Championship.

And as he prepares to begin the defence of his Race to Dubai crown on the DP World Tour, he told BBC Sport: “All I’m focused on is the goals.

“How do I win this week? How do I defend The Open? How do I win majors?”

It is the continuation of a mindset that has brought the Californian four other victories on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour (formerly European Tour) since turning professional in 2019.

Morikawa is in the Middle East for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which begins on Thursday.

“When I look back at my career, many years down the road hopefully, I’m not going to look back at what other people thought of me or what people said,” he added.

“If I think I did a great job of what I set my goals to, I’ll be happy. But knowing me, I’m always going to want more.”

Morikawa made history with his first Race to Dubai crown last November and is now back in the Middle East looking to enhance further his reputation as a global golfing superstar.

“Being the first American to achieve this feat, it’s special,” he said. “It means a lot. The history of American golf goes back a long time.

“There’s been a lot of great players, but to actually be the first one to do it and solidify your name, it’s great.

“I’ve said it since day one, I want to be a world player and hopefully I’ve proved that and I just want to continue that. How do I keep winning in new places, new tournaments, same tournaments and just keep winning?”

Only Spain’s Jon Rahm is placed higher than Morikawa in the world rankings and the Los Angeles native insists his meteoric rise comes from a willingness to learn from every event he plays.

“There have got to be a lot of mini steps and processes involved to get to those big time results,” he said. “But the results are what proves that you’re doing something right.”

Morikawa pinpoints his experience last summer when he finished 71st at the Scottish Open at Renaissance Club in East Lothian immediately before charging to Open glory at Royal St George’s on the Kent coast.

“Even if you finish 20th or 30th for the week, maybe you’ve improved on something,” he insisted. “Look at the Scottish Open, I finished nearly dead last but I learned something.

“I felt like it was a bad result but a lot of things went right for me to show up at The Open the week after and make some changes.”

Ominously he has arrived here in the Middle East fresh from shooting a final-round 62 in the PGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions on Hawaii where he finished in a share of fifth place.

This week he takes on a Yas Links course that has Open style links-like characteristics for the first Rolex Series tournament of the year. Perhaps, though, the biggest similarity will come from brisk winds forecast for Friday’s second round.

Regardless, Morikawa will view it as another testing ground, another opportunity for improvement and another chance to impress. For that to happen, the learning processes from previous experiences will have played a significant part.

“Yeah people want to see the ‘one’ next to your name, but for us it is the things behind the scenes before those weeks that go into playing well,” he said.

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