Collin Morikawa is an Olympian to watch — now and in the future.
Morikawa, 24, who is competing for the United States, is a golfer on the rise, having won the PGA Championship last year and the British Open earlier this month, placing him halfway to a career Grand Slam.
As well as he’s done, Morikawa says the sport is unforgiving for everyone who picks up a club.
“I seek perfection. And I think a lot of people do. But you can never perfect this game,” he told Craig Melvin in an interview before the Tokyo Games that aired Thursday on TODAY.
“There's never been a perfect round, yet we strive every day to try and do it. It's not as physical as a lot of sports. You don't have to be some size or weight, whatever, to compete. But that's what makes it great. Anyone can come play golf.”
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Morikawa has emerged as a star, drawing comparisons to another golfer who also experienced success at a young age: Tiger Woods, who is the only other person to win the PGA Championship and the British Open before turning 25. Morikawa says that’s heady company to keep.
“I don't think it's a fair comparison for anyone,” he said. “I think it's an honor to be ever categorized or talked about in the same manner.
“I don't think when you're saying someone is going to be like someone else, that's not what we want to do. We want to become our own person, but when you are compared in those same categories or something that he's done, it's meaningful. It means you're on the right path.”
Morikawa is a California native, with a mother of Chinese descent. His father also has Japanese heritage, which makes competing in the Tokyo Olympics more special.
“I think since I've turned professional and going to Japan in the fall of 2019 to go play, I've embraced being an Asian American a lot more,” he said.
“To see the love for the game in Japan and to see how they resonate with me and to see that simply because, yes, I look like them — they may be a little kid or whatever — sees that opportunity that they want to be like me. Knowing that I can give hope to hopefully just one person, hopefully more and more, it means a lot.”
Weather marred the first day of play in Tokyo on Thursday, and Morikawa finished 2-under par, putting him in a tie for 20th place.
Morikawa remains laser focused on making an impression at the Olympics, with one goal in mind.
“We're out there to win,” he said. “Yeah, I want my teammates to play well. I want Team USA to do really well. But for myself, I want to win. I want to win gold.”