“I’m 25, I’ve got a great life, I’ve got a great career so far. I’m enjoying it, I’m loving what I’m doing,” two-time Major Champion, Collin Morikawa told reporters at the Genesis Invitational, where a win would have made him World No. 1 for the first time. 

Instead, Morikawa finished tied for 2nd place and remains in the No. 2 slot in the World Golf Rankings… for now.

He’s played in four events so far in the 2021-22 PGA season and he’s finished in the Top 5 in all but the ZOZO Championship where he came in 7th. 

It will be a couple more weeks to unseat current No. 1, Jon Rahm, as Morikawawa was not in the field at the Honda Classic last week. During his time at Riviera in February, about 40 minutes from his hometown of La Cañada Flintridge, California, Morikawa said it was good to be home.

“My parents still live there. I love going back. It is as comforting as it gets. And I still have a lot of friends, their parents and their families live out there and that’s where we’ll kind of meet up,” he said. “Growing up that’s where I went, I went to La Cañada Elementary, I went to the middle school, I went to the high school and that’s my life. Like when people ask where I’m from, that’s where I’m from and I’m very proud of it. It’s cool to see a little city like that just kind of go on the map.”

Morikawa now lives in Las Vegas with his fiance Katherine Zhu, but La Cañada Flintridge isn’t the only town that he gets nostalgic for.

“It was the same thing when I was back in San Francisco and spent four years out there for school. It’s a good feeling,” he said, referencing his time at UC Berkeley’s prestigious Haas School of Business where he received his degree in business administration, becoming the first Cal golfer to graduate from the program without needing a redshirt or attending summer school. 

Morikawa was a star in the classroom and on the course while at Berkeley, managing to win five times in his four years there and enjoying success in his amateur career, including playing on winning Arnold Palmer and Walker Cup teams and spending three weeks as the world’s top-ranked amateur in May 2018.

And while many others from his class are surely working for large companies or running start-ups, Morikawa himself is an entrepreneur. As he’s noted several times, he’s using his degree to manage his brand as a pro golfer. 

Anyone could tell you, he’s off to quite the successful start in that professional career.

Morikawa turned pro in 2019 and made 22 consecutive cuts-just three shy of Tiger Woods’ 25-cut streak- and racked up seven Top 10 finishes in his first season, including the 2020 PGA Championship. Last season, he had eight Top 10 finishes, including winning the 2021 Open Championship in his debut. 

With his great success and rapid ascent to the top of the rankings, Morikawa has adapted well to the subsequent increase in popularity and media attention. Last month’s Golf Digest cover model has embraced it, hoping that he can use his platform to inspire others.

“…Myself, Matt (Wolfe] and Viktor [Hovland], I think we’ve grouped ourselves into this next little group of people to just hopefully inspire other kids and to bring that next youthful energy,” Morikawa said. 

“I feel like kids are believing that they — especially Asian-Americans, can look at me and be like, ‘Oh, yeah we finally see a kid like this and he can do it and I can do the same,’” continued Morikawa, who is of both Japanese and Chinese descent.

“That’s the biggest thing… when you see one kid out there that just tells you that they love you or you inspire them and you’re their favorite golfer…I would have never imagined that at 25. To know that I have that impact…it means a lot. And that means I have to go out there and show my best and be my best and make sure that they see that and make sure that they understand that a kid like me, from their perspective, can go out and live their dream.”

Morikawa surely has turned his own dream into a reality and has sent a strong message to fans and other players at the top of the leaderboard: You better not sleep on him.