Photo: USA Today

Everybody loves a good list. After the performance we all just witnessed at the 149th Open Championship, there’s no better subject to focus on than the Champion Golfer of the Year, Collin Morikawa. He’s 24 years old and has already won two Major Championships in just eight attempts. He’s generating Tiger-like statistics and what’s most impressive is the manner in which he is producing them. 

We all marveled at his maturity in listening to his speech following play on Sunday. Accepting a trophy like the Claret Jug is no easy task. Yet Collin handled it with tremendous aplomb like everything else he does. Rather than recap the tournament, let’s take a moment and consider how he succeeds so efficiently. Here’s an in-depth walk through of how to compete like the Champion – Collin Morikawa.

  1. Preparation – At a very young age, Collin had an innate ability to understand the importance of practice. In speaking with his PGA Coach Rick Sessinghaus, he shared a unique story. Many of Collin’s early lessons took place at a facility called Chevy Chase Country Club in Glendale, California. A wonderful 9-hole golf course outside of Los Angeles with very uneven terrain. For years, Rick and his star pupil would practice on the course hitting shots from all types of lies. In a conversation leading up to Royal St. George’s, Collin mentioned those experiences to his swing and mental performance coach. Life prepares us for many challenges. Always consider your hard work as an opportunity to prepare for one of those challenges even in the future.
  2. Self-Belief – Collin’s parents played a very important role in his player development. From an early age, they did not allow him to connect his tournament results with his identity. They gave him the greatest gift parents can bestow on their children, self-belief. You can simply see it in his performance under pressure. He doesn’t consider failure as a hinderance. He tries his very best and knows the results will work out in his favor more often due to his level of preparation and self-belief.
  3.  Adaptability – As we watch this young PGA Tour star evolve right before our eyes, we see a very well-rounded golfer. Collin’s win at the Open Championship this past weekend was his debut in this major championship and only his second week ever playing links style golf. He credits his victory to the struggles he faced the week prior in the Aberdeen Scottish Open. Between the two tournaments, Morikawa made changes to his equipment and his approach to several aspects of his game. This skill is extremely powerful and has paid dividends throughout his entire career. He is the first player to win two majors in his first time competing in the event. Woods and Nicklaus didn’t do it. Just Collin. His ability to trust his preparation, believe and then adjust even within the competition is a blueprint we all should follow when competing in life and golf.
  4. Embrace the Challenge – Sessinghaus spent countless hours on the course with Collin. In that time, he tested him by competing with him. Rick realized quickly how a direct challenge really heightened his protégé’s focus. In college, Morikawa set a goal to become a member of the Walker Cup Team. Collin worked so hard to become a member of that team, he earned the #1 Amateur Ranking in the World less than a year later. Morikawa possesses a challenge mindset equal to that of Michael Jordan or Tom Brady. The example he sets truly differentiates him from others. Copying Collin’s confidence in the face of adversity doesn’t come without hard work, but we can all incorporate better preparation, believe in ourselves, and increase our adaptability.  In doing so, we will be better suited to conquer our next personal challenge on or off the golf course.
  5. Perspective – There’s no doubt Collin Morikawa is a very thoughtful person. When he speaks following a win, he truly captures the essence of being a champion. That perspective is a quality we should all emulate. He chooses his words carefully and ultimately sets an amazing example for us to follow. From his first victory at the Barracuda Championship in July of 2019 to now, we can see a personal progression. He’s actually trying to become a better person as he becomes a better player. That level of self-awareness and caring about the big picture is an amazing attribute to have at 24 years old. From thanking Tiger Woods after the WGC win or asking a veteran like Mark O’Meara a putting question, Morikawa’s macro viewpoint pulls it all together. In looking at his preparation through this perspective, we only see the path of a true winner in all aspects of life.

We admire athletes just for their ability to win inside their competition. I truly believe it is Collin’s ability to win outside of golf that prepares him for his victories on the course. We all won’t become the Champion Golfer of the Year, but we can all create victories in our day to day lives by following Collin’s example. His poise has been developed through years of wonderful mentoring by his parents, coaching by Sessinghaus and continuing to surround himself with more successful team members who also embody Collin’s checklist for victory. 

Selfishly, I hope Collin is ready to prepare for and accept one more challenge in the coming months. The United States needs a new generational leader on their Ryder Cup team. Come September let’s all hope we aren’t the only ones paying attention to the example he sets.