May 20, 2021
Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Collin Morikawa, defending champion. Positioned himself well with a 2-under 70 today. That's got to be music to your ears. Just a nice, well-played round to open things up, your first time defending a championship as a professional.
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Yeah, I'd say overall a really solid day. Didn't really make too many mistakes, and the mistakes I did, they're really easily fixable. Overall, you've just got to be ready to hit good shots out here. It's going to test you, even downwind when you've got wedge. I hit wedge into 9 today and made bogey. You've got to be ready holes 1 through 18, and you're going to have to do that for three more rounds.
Q. Another putting question, sorry. How do you think you putted overall, and then walk me through the short one on 9.
COLLIN MORIKAWA: I thought I putted great. I missed one on 7 -- or I missed one on 6. I missed one on 9. But I actually didn't think -- like I didn't hit bad putts, and that's a good thing. If I was hitting bad putts on those, then we've got an issue, and I've got to go putt for a couple minutes. Overall, I thought I was hitting really good putts. My speed was good for the most part. That's just things I've been working on. It's good to see something translate into a tournament round and hopefully just continue that the next three days.
Q. Collin, usually you guys have two days to sort out a golf course, and they're usually courses you go to every year, so it's not that big a deal. But you come here, and they're moving tees around, the wind's moving around, the whole nine yards. Can you really actually learn this golf course in two days?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Yeah, I think when they move tees around, that's just more sight lines, and that's more lines off the tee, distance. But everything from the fairways and in, they're not changing where the green's going to be.
For me, three days, my Monday through Wednesday, is plenty enough prep to get everything done. I've done it since I turned pro. I've done it for almost two years now. So I feel comfortable. When they do move a tee that looks completely different than maybe I haven't hit from, it's just making sure I know where my center is, my left edge, my right edge, and go from there like any other day.
Q. How would you describe the wind out there today?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Windy. (Laughter). That's a pretty obvious answer.
I thought it was windier in the morning when we actually teed off. When we got to that 14-through-18 stretch, I thought that's when it got the windiest today for us, but it's a slightly different direction than what we've had in the practice rounds. I think we knew that, but kind of that front nine, which was our last nine holes, kind of was coming a little more across than it was straight in and straight down. Just a few adjustments off the tee that I kind of need to make depending on what the wind is going to be the next few days.
Q. And what would you consider the best shot you had today?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: The best shot? I thought the best shot I hit was on 18, the 5-wood I hit into the green. It actually blew a little more right than I thought, but it's kind of everything I wanted out of it.
Q. Would you prefer it stay windy or get windier as the week goes on?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Absolutely. I hope it does because it makes you hit good shots, and the guys that are hitting quality drives, quality iron shots, are probably going to be hitting more greens. Pars are going to be a little easier. You're not going to be as stressed through 36, 54 holes.
I feel like where my game is at right now and how I'm hitting my irons, it feels really solid, or how I'm hitting my 4-irons and 5-woods. So, yeah, I hope it does stay windy because it really tests your ability to hit quality shots.
Q. I know you putted well today. How would you describe the actual putting surfaces here? Are they some of the more manageable ones that you'd see in a major?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: I'd say so. They're a little more spongy than you may see at a few majors when we see them throughout the year. They're a little softer, a little more receptive. There's still a lot of breaks, but they're puttable, and you're able to put good pace on them. Even with downwind, downhill putts, you can still be slightly aggressive, where some places you're playing eight feet of break, and you're trying to die it barely in the front edge.
Q. How do these tough conditions at a major suit your game?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: I think I said it before. You just have to hit quality iron shots. You have to hit quality drives. I thought I did that really well today. Hopefully, I continue to do that. But you just -- normally major championships, if the rough is really long, you have to hit it straight. Out here, when the wind is up like this and it's going to hopefully be up like that the rest of the week, you have to just hit good drives. A miss is going to be that exaggerated, so normally you miss it right side of the fairway, it might be right rough, and that's just going to add on and add on and make the round tougher. So when you're in the fairway and you have a good shot, you have to take advantage of it.
Q. Do you enjoy playing with Bryson? We've seen it has unnerved some people how far he hits it.
COLLIN MORIKAWA: I love it. I think I outdrove him on 9 today, and I made bogey. So maybe I need to dial it back. I enjoy it.
I think people need to give him credit, starting today, that he's actually picking up the pace. It was amazing how fast he actually played. I'm not going to say fast, but he wasn't slow. You weren't just waiting on him to figure out whatever.
Kudos to him because it was windy and he had to figure out some stuff for sure. But I enjoy it. He's a character. He's his own person. That's what makes Bryson Bryson. I think that's why people love him. I enjoy playing with someone like that. It's not going to faze me that he hits it a hundred past me. I know I can still hit it and play golf.
Q. When you're swinging it this well, Collin, how many times a round do you actually not hit it on the screws like absolutely perfectly?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: A lot. I mean, you miss shots, and it's just, when I'm hitting it well or it looks like I'm hitting it well, those misses look a lot better than they are. I'm thinking through my shots. I'm knowing where my misses might be, kind of playing those.
So you just have a little luck on your side. On 17 today, I thought I fanned it in the water, and you get a little right-to-left wind instead of straight in, and I'm having a two-putt par. Just days like that, and hopefully it just continues on that week, and hopefully you can call up those weeks that everything kind of goes right.
Q. Does a day like today take it out of you any more than just a typical round on Tour, being a little windy, being challenging? Are you a little more tired than you would be?
COLLIN MORIKAWA: Not really. I would say days when you have no wind and you're hitting driver, wedge, you're still going to be tired. You're thinking through every shot and trying to figure things out. So I'd say overall, like maybe a little bit, but I think I'm going to get a great rest. We've got a late tee time tomorrow. So a lot of time to just relax and get away from the course.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports