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July 9, 2019

Collin Morikawa

Silvis, Illinois

THE MODERATOR: I'd like to get started, please help me welcome in Collin Morikawa to the John Deere Classic. Collin is making his fifth professional start here this week and is coming off a runner-up finish last week at the 3M Open. How have the last couple days been for you, and can we get some comments about your tournament debut here this week?

COLLIN MORIKAWA: Yeah, it's been really busy. Kind of all went really quickly. You think back to Monday when I arrived, or Sunday last week, and just -- I felt good. I had a week off, and I was really happy that I took a week off right before 3M, and I just knew I could make a lot of birdies out there. It was going to be a hell of a round with Matt, playing with him, knowing him. I think that made it really easy. And then ever since Sunday night, it's all kind of just been a blur. Just coming out here playing yesterday, I was a little tired, and today I only played nine holes, but I'm going to definitely get some rest. I think that's the biggest thing for me to play well here this week.

But being out here at the John Deere is really cool. Having Michael Kim win here last year is really special. I kind of picked his brain a little bit to see what he did to shoot 27-under par. That's pretty good. 20-under par was really good last week, I thought, and 27 this week would be really good.

But my caddie J.J. has been out here. He won with Ryan Moore a few years ago. He said the course is really firm, really fast, a little different than the past couple years, which will be really cool for my sake; having guys not seen it as firm and fast is going to help me.

THE MODERATOR: With the runner-up finish last week, you're in special temporary membership. Can you talk about the significance of that and how that sets you up for the rest of the season?

COLLIN MORIKAWA: Yeah, no, I mean, it's a cool feeling being a part-time PGA TOUR member. But obviously the goal coming into this summer was to earn a full card for next year. We're almost there. Obviously I can't put that on my mind. That hasn't been on my mind when I play as my only goal. It's been to play my best, see how many birdies I can make, shoot my best score and move on to the next day.

So knowing what I have to do, it's going to be there in my mind, but it's going to be something that I'm going to have to kind of just put aside and just worry about my next shot because if I do start thinking about that, and I said this even after my first finish at Canada, if I start thinking about what I need to do, I'm going to blink and it's going to be the end of the summer and I'm going to be finishing up Wyndham and then I'm going to have to get ready for whatever is next. I don't want to do that. I want to take in as much as I can, and even though Sunday afternoon was a blur, Monday yesterday was kind of just a quick round through 18, even though I really enjoyed the pro-am with the guys and superintendents I played with. I'm going to have to take my time, take a deep breath and really just enjoy this week.

Q. You talked about Michael with a smile, but can you get specific with him, what this course is about, what this tournament is about, or is it just, Wow, you did fantastic last year? Is it technical stuff, and will you pick his brain more about the golf course and everything like that?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Yeah, no, I tried to play nine with him this morning but we ended up on opposite nines. We were going to play nine and then kind of got kicked out of the back nine. Whatever.

But yeah, no, I mean, it's just getting a sense of how he would play this course, and everyone is going to play a course differently. Me and Matt were playing two different courses last week. You know, he bombs the ball and I was getting it out there but we're playing different golf, and that's what I have to stick to and I have to remember. The past couple days when I've been practicing, I've been getting a little quick, and what I told myself the last round at 3M was that I had to stay with my tempo, and that's what I'm going to have to do this week. That's what I'm going to have to do for my entire career is stick to what I've been doing, stick to my tempo, and I'll be fine.

But it's just learning the course. My caddie J.J. knows the course really well. He knows what to do. So you've kind of got to play things by ear. You don't know what the wind is going to be. You don't know how strong it's going to be. I think there might be a storm here or there in the next couple days.

So the course is going to play completely different by Thursday, and I'm just going to have to adapt.

Q. There's been a lot of guys like Jordan and J.T. who have won pretty quickly out on TOUR, Jordan more so. Has it helped you to know a guy so well like you did with Matthew last week and to see somebody break that door down? Does it help kind of demystify winning on TOUR?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Sort of. I mean, I know Matt pretty well. I know Cameron Champ pretty well. Obviously he won pretty quickly. I think it does help to know that we can go and our games have translated, but I think I've already proven to myself that I can come out here and play with these guys.

You know, I've told everyone, I've felt very comfortable since the first day I've stepped out here on the PGA TOUR, come a month ago in Canada. Last week I didn't feel the nerves until I hit that approach shot on 18. I saw Bryson make that putt, and obviously things are happening, and I know what I had to do. That wasn't going to change anything. I knew I had to at least make birdie, but I had to hit a good shot. I had to hit a good tee shot, I had to hit a good second shot, and I did both of that. I hit a really good putt on 18 and just misread it, but what are you going to do, you're going to learn from that and move on. But to see them win, it definitely helps, but I think I've already proven to myself -- that's the most important. You've got to believe in yourself. That's where it's going to start. There are going to be a lot of people that believe in you and you're going to have your support system, but if you don't believe in yourself out here, it's going to be really tough.

I think ever since Canada I've had a lot of confidence. I've been able to kind of build off of that. U.S. Open obviously was great just to play in a major. But yeah, we're just past the halfway point of my summer, and I look forward to kind of finishing this off and see where it takes us.

Q. What specifically about amateur golf gets you guys so prepared to come out here as quickly and have the success you've had?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: I think it's really cool to have a solid core that we're coming out. There's me, Justin, Viktor and Matt, who kind of have played this entire summer together. But the competition in college is so good. You see the guys and you see the Korn Ferry TOUR now and it's just a bunch of college players and a bunch of guys -- when I was a freshman that they were sophomores, juniors, seniors that are out there now competing against each other, and it's cool because for me, the more comfortable I am, the easier it's going to be.

I've gotten to know a lot of guys and I keep getting to know more and more guys, and the more guys I get to know, it just feels like a regular day for me out here, which at this point it almost does now. It just makes it so easy. It's another golf tournament. We're actually out here, I've seen the same guys. Obviously the big-name guys are over in Ireland and getting ready for the British Open, but even getting to know them -- like I said, I had dinner with Justin Thomas, I had play a practice round with Rory, Justin Rose at the Open. Just getting to know these guys, it makes it so much easier.

You know, the belief part is also being -- for me is being comfortable, and if I'm comfortable, it's going to be so much easier. So yeah, no, it helps with the young core group moving out. But I think finishing up my four years, that was really important for me. I think it prepared me not just -- I didn't have to -- there's no book that's going to help you you've got to read in four years that's going to prep you for this. You've got to figure things out on your own. But I think I've just matured enough to come out here and know what I need to do.

Q. There's a lot more talk about how guys your age have felt ready since almost the very first time you've been out as a pro. Think back I guess to in college -- in college when did you feel like you knew inside that you would be ready when you stepped out here? Is there a moment where you'd been playing college golf enough to where there isn't that mystifying factor about playing on the PGA TOUR when that time comes?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: I mean, it's hard if you -- I could have turned pro, obviously, after the Web, after I lost in a playoff sophomore year or junior year. But for me, getting my degree was really important. I've always had that plan. I'm going to finish in four years, get out, get my business degree, and then I'm going to be ready.

Yeah, I felt like I was mature enough that I could have came out here a couple years ago, but you don't know -- there's expectations we put for ourselves, and then obviously you guys put expectations for us, but we don't know how that's going to go. All of us could have played -- we could be playing awful right now and we would just be another class that goes on to next summer fighting for our card and whatnot.

But what Justin Thomas told me is that you can expect so much but you've got to go out here and learn. This is our first summer. It's like going to your first class in college. You have no clue what to expect, and everyone is just as lost as you are, and that's why this first month has been so kind of relaxing and easy because I've been able to play well, but I've been able to learn from these guys and just kind of pick their brains on just what TOUR life is like.

Q. Maybe pick out one thing that you maybe wouldn't have expected to learn or that you had no clue about.
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Well, I think the biggest thing is that these guys are just normal guys. We're talking right now, that's how I'm going to talk to them. You know, it's just getting to know them on a different level. You see them on TV, you see them play golf, but when you're able just to talk with them, play a practice round, it just makes it fun, and that's what we're out here to do.

Q. Is there any intimidation factor involved with that? Tiger had the intimidation factor; are there any guys out here now that you look at and say, oh, my God, that's... that type of thing? Or is it just a bunch of guys playing golf?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: You know, it's crazy, I think as a little kid I would have had that kind of star-struck feeling, but it's weird, I don't, which I think is a good thing and a bad thing. Yes, these guys have done amazing things for the game and I respect them, and it's cool to be playing along with them. I know when I was a kid I wanted to play along Tiger Woods, and obviously what happened years ago, it took a little hit and I was hoping he would get back and he is back where he is now.

I think it's cool to play along these guys, and that's what I want to do, I want to play along the best players in the world and compete with them when they're playing the best. And what happened last week was three of us were playing really good golf -- I mean, I think there was like eight guys at the top of the leaderboard at some point, and that's what you want. It's not -- I'm not going to step away from that challenge. I want that challenge. I want everyone to play well. But I want to be playing just a little bit better than them.

Q. On the subject of learning, I know you're probably not going to emulate Matthew's swing, but what can you learn from a guy like that watching him and maybe watching him win some in college because he won a lot in college, as well. What can you learn temperament wise or rising to the occasion wise? What can you learn about what you went through on Sunday and watching a guy come through like that?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Well, it's hard because you don't know how you're going to react to a final-round pairing, and it didn't hit me that I was playing the final-round pairing until I finished the round. But Matt -- I think like I said earlier, Matt and I, we were very relaxed, and that's what's great about Matt is that he is such an easy-going guy. We're able to talk. Matt is an awesome kid. I've gotten to him and his family for a long time now, so it's awesome for him to get that win.

But Matt loves to talk. We love to -- I'm fine with talking, whether a playing partner wants to talk or not talk, I don't care, but Matt needs someone to talk. I think he had his caddie there, and it was perfect for him. It was a perfect match. It was a new week for him. But I think what I can learn from that is that it's just another round of golf. We looked at each other I think walking down -- it was either 17 after we hit our tee shot or 18, and we were just talking about how cool this is. I mean, we're battling it out, and this is exactly how it felt when we were at Olympia Fields a year ago or last fall or we were in Cabo a couple years ago. It's just like that. There's just people watching us play now. We had no one watch us back then.

But this is what we're going to do. I know that's not going to be the last time. There's going to be so many more times that's going to happen.

I think we just kind of smiled at each other, and that just kind of gave us a good feeling that no matter what happens, whoever comes out on top, we're just going to be able to keep playing. And this is what we love. It's the coolest thing.

Q. You talked about the cool aspects of it; off the course is it the same way for you guys? Do you hang out together off the course? How are you adjusting to TOUR life outside the ropes?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Before I was out here this summer, I've heard it's very lonely. A lot of traveling, and I like traveling, but I've been thankful to have my girlfriend out here with me traveling every single week. It just adds like an extra little dinner date and just someone to have every single week with me, whether it's walking the ropes. I can see her when I'm playing, make the turn. Just have someone to talk to about anything other than golf. It's perfect.

But yeah, no, I think the core group -- I don't know Viktor as well as I do like Matt and Justin, but we're all going to be that -- you guys are going to classify us as whatever group, and we're always going to be thrown together. So it's cool. It's cool to see them and have them really out there and be able to talk to them whenever. Like I was texting Justin this morning just about random stuff, and just other guys like -- I have other guys like on the Mackenzie TOUR that I either went to college with or grew up with and guys on the Web, all of us in the Palmer Cup, we played last year in France, we're still all on a little group chat, and we text about every week. So it's really cool to have all of us turn pro now and see what we're doing, and I think all of us are going to keep pushing each other and keep going forward.

Q. Do you think that your game feels more free than it has since turning pro?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: I don't know if it would be considered free. I think my game has always felt pretty free. I didn't come out here -- so I heard a quote from Brooks Koepka. I think it was at the Travelers after we did our media day, and he was talking about how he's gone from the mindset of when he first came out of making cuts to getting top 30s or whatever to top 10s or winning, and that week kind of switched it because I think, yeah, maybe from RBC to the U.S. Open it was kind of let's make a cut and then, well, we made the cut, let's go all out and make some birdies, and then after I heard that from Brooks Koepka before I started the week at Travelers, it was like, I'm not here just to make cuts, I'm here to win.

Yeah, you have to make the cut to win and you've got to play well all four days, but that mindset, it kind of hit me because in college I wasn't there just to get a top 10. Yeah, I had a lot of top 10s or whatever, but I was there to win. You're not going to look back and be like, oh, yeah, you finished seventh every single week, and it was a good college career, they're going to look at how many wins you had and how many wins you had for the year.

So I think it's been a little more free. I wouldn't say from last week -- I think it can get ahead of me this week where it's just like, oh, I'm on cruise control, but I'm not. Last week I was till tweaking things. I'm still kind of tweaking things. I'm figuring out what works and what doesn't work, but it's a new week, it's a new course, new conditions. I'm still grinding out there. I think if I get a little too comfortable, it could be going the wrong way for me.

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