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November 9, 2020

Collin Morikawa

Augusta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. On behalf of all of us at Augusta National, I would like to welcome you to your first trip to Augusta. And I know that this afternoon, you played your first round of golf, late this morning and early this afternoon. Never been on the course from what you're telling me. How does it feel to be here and how did it go.
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Feels good. Feels like it's a place you want to be. It's a place you've kind of watched growing up, and to finally play 18 holes here as an actual golfer in the Masters is something special, but I've got to remember, you know, I'm here to play golf and I've got to kind of figure out how am I going to play my best golf out here.
To finally set foot, look at the course and what it is and everything around it, it's very beautiful.
THE MODERATOR: You had a terrific experience at Harding Park with the PGA a few months ago. You probably prepared well for that. Any different approach to preparation for Augusta? What's the key?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: I thought about coming out here early, but I've shown up this entire year and a half to courses I've never been and courses I've under seen. And yes, this is a very difficult course and there's a lot of slopes that you need to know, a lot of guys with past experience understand, but for me, I think I do a really good job Monday through Wednesday. So I showed up today, got my 18 holes in, and trying to figure out what I need to work on and what I need to get prepped for.
I think I've done my prep work so far to get my game where it needs to be. Do I need to do anything different? Not necessarily, it's just, you want to show up to these majors not really working on anything, just being ready to play golf. And I think over the past couple weeks, I've put myself there.

Q. How has life changed after being a major winner?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Yeah, it's gotten busier, but it's been amazing. To be called a Major Champion by other guys, by other people, friends, whatever it may be, it's a good feeling. You know why majors are circled in their calendars and why I'm going to circle them in my calendar now. It doesn't mean it's going to translate into amazing golf the next week or the month after.
My results since the PGA have been a little struggling, but that doesn't mean the golf game and mental side isn't where I want it to be. It's an up‑and‑down game, golf is, but it's a lot of fun. A lot of good opportunities come from it, and I want to be in that same position again.

Q. It's been a season unlike any other, obviously. Can you speak to how the players and caddies on Tour kind of took ownership of making this work and policing each other's behavior and doing the right things to keep the show going on?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: It's huge. I think a lot of the players, a lot of the caddies, need to get a lot more credit than what we do.
Yes, I've never felt as safe when I'm on the golf course because we're all tested. We stay in our little bubble, but when we leave and we go to our hotels, it's all on us to make sure we don't do anything that we shouldn't; that we don't go out to eat and we're not doing things.
The first couple weeks, we kind of saw it was very strict in Texas, and then we go to Hilton Head and it's very different. And I think that gave us a wake‑up call to realize that this is big. I don't think golf gets the credit as being one of the first sports back and showing that this is possible.
But the caddies and players and everyone that's helped out, a lot of credit to have these tournaments run, because we go across the country. And you guys know that; that every single week we're out there, it's vulnerable to have someone test positive. We've seen it happen, and it sucks, but we're very thankful to be back playing.

Q. You mentioned Hilton Head, and it definitely was kind of a party atmosphere there, and the Tour went to Hartford and there was a lot of positive tests and withdrawals. Did you notice a change after or even at Hartford where players were policing each other a little more and there was a sense of awareness together and we have to do it differently?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: I think guys have to realize the responsibility on our backs. We don't want to be going out there and showing that we're having 20 positive COVID tests and then realize, maybe this was the wrong decision for us to start.
Everyone on the Tour realized, you know, yes, this is possible, but it's going to be a lot on us to make sure we do what we want to do and we do it properly.
Hilton Head just had a little more relaxed rules out there, and I think in everyone's head, it might have been like, okay, we can go out, as well. But after that and you see a couple more positives tests, everyone took it back. At the end of the day, this is our job, and we don't want to be missing out on our job. We love what we do. At the end of the day, we are just having fun playing golf.
You don't want to miss out, because if you miss out because of a reason why, you know, you could have stayed indoors, I think that would be a bad feeling for everyone else.

Q. What has changed the most since your PGA Championship victory?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Well, just like earlier, just a little busier lifestyle. I don't think I get recognized, especially with a mask. I don't get recognized anywhere, and I love that, because for now, I can at least go out to dinner or get something to eat. I'm a huge foodie, so I want to keep that part of my life.
But just being called a Major Champion, I think that's been the biggest difference, obviously.

Q. Can you drill down a little bit on why you tend to play better or well at courses you might not know as well, and are you hyper‑focused or‑‑ not to say you're flying blind on these courses, but any idea why that is?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Well, every course I've pretty much played over the last year and a half, I've never seen. So I guess if I play well, you're going to say, why do you play well on all these blind courses.
Some courses fit your eyes better than others, and I think some guys know that. If it doesn't, you've just got to figure out a game plan for how you're going to step up on Thursday and then start playing good golf.
I'm not afraid of any course out here, and I think that's kind of the mind‑set I've gone out, I feel like my game, whatever you guys deem it to be or whatever, I believe it is, and I can go out and dissect a course and figure out what is my best opportunity to go out here and shoot a good score. I wouldn't say I focus more on certain courses than others because I come out every week, Monday through Wednesday to figure out by Thursday morning, I'm ready to play golf.

Q. You only have a couple major starts in your career. How do you stay so poised and focused and not be so intimidated by these courses?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: You know, for me, I think if I look back as an amateur, and you look at junior golfers, whatever, you're always intimidated by what the players are, you know, who the players are, who you might be paired with, who you're playing against.
I've never necessarily been intimidated by courses, and I think that's what makes this a little‑‑ I wouldn't say easy, but it makes it a little more comfortable to show up to courses I've never been at, and just be ready to play golf, be ready to figure out how I'm going to play it, 1 through 18.
But for me to get to know everyone, to get to play lots of rounds with other guys, Tiger, Rory, DJ, J.T., all these guys I've watched growing up, it allows me to go out there and play golf like I normally would. I think in the few major starts I've had, yes, there are a few majors, but I've played with all these guys and I've seen them every single week.
It just makes it easier for me to come out here like it's any other event. The guys I've played here‑‑ I played with Justin Rose, and I played with him today, and I asked him how many Masters he played. I think he said it was like 14. Then we talked about Sergio, how he's played, whatever, 20 or something.
These guys come out here; yes, it's the Masters, knowing it's a major, but they come out ready to play golf and that's all they care about. And I think I've fast‑tracked that process a little bit, even though I haven't played these courses or played the Masters before. I'm comfortable. I'm comfortable coming out here. Everyone's different, but that's just me.

Q. Being a first‑time guy here, and you have a lot of homework to do, your caddie and your yardage book, how vital a piece that is for you and what are you doing in the practice rounds to prepare yourself with the yardage book?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Yeah, I'm pretty detailed in my yardage book, as well. Everyone is different out here on the PGA Tour, but for me, coming out here, playing the first 18 today is nothing different to figuring out what slopes I need to write down in my yardage book, what lines I need to hit.
You know, I think what's cool about golf is that you have to adjust. And, you know, my caddie, J.J., could have had these lines from, whatever, five years ago, three years ago, and said this is the line, but with wind, with rain, with where the tees might be, it's just about adjusting and figure out what the line might be for that day.
That's golf. You know, you just have to adjust. So what lines do we need to figure out? I think we have that down in one day. We figured that out today. It's just getting comfortable with what approach shots, what shots you might have to hit into the greens, what quadrants you might have to hit.
The greens are tricky, you know. I think we all know that. There's a lot of slope to them, and just figuring them out, getting comfortable. Like I said earlier, getting comfortable on these greens is going to be a huge part for me feeling ready by Thursday.

Q. Have you talked to veteran caddies or veteran players about some of the intricacies here?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Not really. I actually saw Mark O'Meara last week. He lives in Vegas, and I saw him at the course I practice at and I asked him, and he gave me a very basic answer, which I love, which is control your wedge shots and control your speed. And you can say that about any course.
But at the end of the day, how much of a course can you simplify it? And I think that's the biggest thing is that some guys might come out here thinking so much about the course when they really haven't played it yet. And I didn't put anything in my head of what this hole might be like, what this is going to play like. I showed up today with a very open mind and see it for what it is.
I think I got very lucky showing up to the Masters in November this year, having no fans, because I was able to step on to 1 this morning and just go out and play golf. I didn't have to look at the fans line the fairways or see the grandstands wherever they might be. I saw the course for what it is.
I think that's going to be really beneficial, not just for this year, but for years forward. Yes, sight lines might change with grandstands, but to see it for what it is, very, very helpful.

Q. Building on that, guys like Tiger and Phil think they have a huge advantage because of all their institutional knowledge here. You make it sound like it's pretty simple to pick it up in two days. Are they overstating things for their own confidence level or are you underplaying? What's going on here?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: You know, experience never hurts. Shoot, I wish I had played here 15, 20 times, however many times they have played it. I wish I had that knowledge, but I don't. That's going to grow over the years I keep coming back and I keep playing, but for now I have to feel like I can still compete with these guys. It's not like I'm behind the 8‑ball already and I have a disadvantage. On Thursday, we all start at even par. That's what you do every week.
And I think if I had that mind‑set, I probably wouldn't be here. I probably wouldn't have had the start I had, coming out of college, turning pro, whatever, last summer and realizing, okay, I can come out here and compete with these guys.
I've had that belief ever since, and as I keep playing with these guys, I get more comfortable. But I think any course you go to, course knowledge helps, and especially out here, knowing the winds‑‑ and that's where I'm going to rely on my caddie. He's been here six, seven years, and that's the trust that I have in him. I think on a Monday through Wednesday, I can figure out a course well enough to show up on Thursday and be ready to play golf.

Q. Obviously you're focused on the preparations, but did you have any moments out there where you said, "Gee whiz, I'm here at Amen Corner," or where you felt the emotion of it?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: You know, Rosey brought me over on 11 and he was talking about the first time he walked over, kind of 11, the crest, walking down and you see 11 and 12. And you know, I got a good sense and I got a good smile out of it.
But I'm so focused in on playing good golf out here and trying to figure out this course, because I think if I get intertwined in trying to be a spectator, I'm going to miss some shots and I'm going to miss some areas where I need to really prep and focus in.
So when I'm out there, I'm really trying to enjoy it‑‑ yes, I'm trying to enjoy it but I'm really trying to focus. That's just me. I'll enjoy it at the end of the week hopefully.

Q. What's your expectations for the week?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: I love the word "expectations." All the media people, I'm going to come out one day with a shirt that says "expectations" crossed out.
For me, it's just goals. End of the day, the goal is to win. There's a lot that's going to have to going into it, a lot of weather that we see that we don't know what's going to thrown at us.
But for me, it's just to come out here and do my prep work. I don't know what scores are going to be like. I don't know how other guys are going to play, but all I can do is put my best foot forward and see what happens. The game feels great. The game feels like where it should be, where it was before Harding. I'm not thinking about anything. I'm going out there and playing golf, and I think that's where you want to be, especially at majors, and we'll see what happens.
THE MODERATOR: We all wish you the best and wish you those goals this week and good luck.

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