Why the ZOZO means more than just golf to Collin Morikawa

Following a stellar opening round at the ZOZO championship, Collin Morikawa revealed that coming to Japan is about more than just golf.

Collin Morikawa
Collin Morikawa

Collin Morikawa got off to a great start at the ZOZO Championship in Japan, firing an opening round 6-under 64 to lead a chasing pack that features Nicolai Hojgaard and Japanese golfer Mikumu Horikawa, by one shot. 

Morikawa, 26, showed none of the rustiness he demonstrated at the 2023 Ryder Cup, carding a bogey-free round that featured six birdies, five of which came on the back nine that he played as his opening holes, having teed off on the 10th to start his round.

Speaking to the media after his round, Morikawa was delighted and seemed almost surprised with his performance, having taken a few weeks off golf after Team USA's crushing defeat at the hands of Team Europe in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.  

Discussing his round, he said:

"Yeah, look, taking a few weeks off, you never know what you're going to get, but I've been kind of working on a few things trying to get control of the golf ball, spent a lot of time putting yesterday. It's nice to kind of see the work I've put in, just kind of recreate that on the golf course. Obviously you never know how it's going to be, but it was a fun round today."

While clearly content with his opening round, Morikawa was also questioned about his family's heritage and what it means to come to Japan.

He responded:

"Yeah, look, there's obviously a little bit more meaning to this tournament for me.
"I'm half Japanese and so my dad's side is the Japanese side. To be honest, I think my great grandparents came over from Japan and moved to Hawaii, so moved to the U.S. fairly early, quite some time.
"It's been nice ever since 2019 when we've kind of been able to travel over here and play golf to just learn a little bit more and kind of reconnect with the culture and essentially my history.

Fan favourite and ZOZO champion in 2021, Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, also put together a solid opening round, carding a 1-under 69 that featured one of the shots of the day on the par-5 14th to set up a tap-in eagle.

Another former ZOZO champion, Keegan Bradley, also appeared to have put the disappointment of missing out on the Ryder Cup behind him en route to putting together a tidy 3-under 67 that sees him sitting T-8 on the leaderboard.

Other notable performances from the first day included a stellar 5-under from home favourite Horikawa and a feel-good 4-under from Zac Blair, who recently retained his PGA Tour card on a medical exemption, having missed almost two years of golf after receiving extensive surgery on his shoulder. 

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