Morikawa Savors Selection to Olympic Team

Collin Morikawa, who grew up in La Cañada Flintridge, will be one of the four male golfers representing the U.S. in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. He is the youngest player in the quartet and qualified by being ranked No. 4 in the world. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Former La Cañada High School standout Collin Morikawa impressed the golf world by making the cut in his first 22 tournaments as a pro, falling just short of tying living legend Tiger Woods, who set the record with 25.

The trend continues for Morikawa, who recently made the cut to become one of four golfers to represent the United States in the Summer Olympics this month in Tokyo. He is the first LCHS graduate to compete in the Olympics since 2014, when Kate Hansen joined the U.S. luge team in the Winter Games at Sochi, Russia.

“It’s amazing, one of the best honors I’m going to be able to have in my life,” Morikawa said recently on the Barstool Sports Fore Play podcast. “Even though we can’t do a lot of things [because] we kind of got to stay in this bubble [due to COVID-19], you can’t take it away from me. I’m an Olympian; I’m going to be an Olympian for life and that’s going to be really cool.”

The selection of players is determined by the Olympic Golf Rankings, which are similar to the Official World Golf Ranking, and each country is allowed a maximum of four athletes. Sixty players from 35 countries will compete individually in the men’s competition, which was originally to be held in summer 2020 but postponed, along with the rest of the Games, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Joining the four-time Rio Hondo League champion will be Justin Thomas (ranked No. 3 in the world), Xander Schauffele (No. 5) and Bryson DeChambeau (No. 6). Dustin Johnson, the top-ranked player in the U.S. and No. 2 in the world, declined the invitation to participate in the Olympics due to the lengthy travel and his commitment to play PGA Tour tournaments.

At 24, Morikawa, ranked No. 4 in the world, will be the youngest male golfer representing the U.S. in Tokyo. The first round of competition is scheduled to be played at Kasumigaseki Country Club on Thursday, July 29.

BRADENTON, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 28: Collin Morikawa of the United States celebrates winning on the 18th green during the final round of World Golf Championships-Workday Championship at The Concession on February 28, 2021 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Golf returned to the Olympics in 2016 after a 112-year absence.

“We are thrilled to welcome these world-class players to Team USA and excited to watch them compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” Rick Adams, U.S. Olympics and Paralympics Committee chief of sport performance, said in a recent statement. “The return of golf to the Olympic program in [Rio de Janeiro] was a highlight of the Games, and the golf competition in Tokyo will be no different.”

Morikawa, who graduated from Cal in 2018 and LCHS in 2014, clinched a spot on the U.S. team after tying for fourth place with Brooks Koepka in the U.S. Open on June 20. The former Pac-12 Conference player of the year has won four PGA Tour competitions, including a major title last year when he edged Paul Casey and Johnson by two strokes to win the PGA Championship.

Collin Morikawa is the first La Cañada High School graduate to compete in the Olympics since Kate Hansen, who was a member of the U.S. luge team in the Sochi Winter Games in Russia in 2014. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

The young star has one simple goal in mind.

“Obviously, we’re there to win gold,” Morikawa said. “We’re playing individually, but I’m still playing for Team USA. You want to add another gold medal to that tally at the end of the Olympics. I’m going to feel like I’m playing for Team USA even though it still is an individual medal race.

“Man, it gives me chills thinking about it because you just joined another elite group of people. It’s another milestone that you can put on your career and just look back on and be like, ‘Man, I was there. I was playing in the Olympics.’”

Morikawa joined Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” on June 24 to announce that he would be representing the U.S. in the Olympics.

“I mean, two years ago I was an amateur,” he said in front of a live studio audience. “Look at us now. Now we’re trying to win gold.”