And now he’s in Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as part of a four-man delegation from Team USA, seeking to win the country’s first-ever Olympic gold in men’s individual golf.
After finishing in the top 15 of the Olympic golf rankings at the end of the qualifying period, Morikawa joined Justin Thomas, Xander Sc Chaudele and Bryson DeChambeau in receiving the honor of representing the United States at the Summer Games.
Unfortunately for 2020 US Open winner DeChambeau, he was forced to step down after testing positive for Covid-19. He has since been replaced by Patrick Reed, winner of the Masters 2018.
Just over two years ago, Morikawa was ranked 1039th in the world after finishing tied for 14th at the RBC Canadian Open in June 2019. Now he’s a two-time major winner for the Olympics.
And he says he’s ready to take it all in while he’s in Japan.
“(His enthusiasm) is at its peak to really think about where I was two years ago as an amateur and where I am now in the world, everything I have done so far”, a- he told Shane O’Donoghue of CNN Living Golf.
“It’s crazy to think I have this opportunity, but it’s something I’ll never take for granted. No one can take it away from me and represent Team USA, that’s one of the biggest honors. really.”
Playing for his country
While Morikawa makes his first appearance for Team USA, it is not the first time he has played as a team in a golf tournament.
During his amateur career, the 24-year-old has competed in team formats at the Arnold Palmer Cup, Walker Cup and Eisenhower Trophy.
But competing in the Olympics as part of the United States will “surpass it all by a million times” because of the global appeal of the Games, according to the world number 3.
“For golf, we’re such an individual sport. And even though the Olympics – yes, we play individually, and we strive to win gold or whatever. You play for your country and those were the best memories. that I did as an amateur, ”he said.
“And it’s just going to top it all a million times because it’s on a professional stage, it’s all over the world. So really every time you wear USA on your sleeve or your chest or anywhere, it’s something that’s, it’s always going to be with you. “
When the golf competition kicks off on Thursday, July 29 at Kasumigaseki Country Club, Morikawa will adjust alongside three of the top 12 golfers in the world.
In addition to describing having “chills” when donning a jersey with the American flag embossed on it, the high caliber of the selected players – and players who missed the game – showcases the strength of American golf at the moment.
“I think it shows the strength of young golf and a lot of young players right now. But we all want to fight against each other. I think we are trying to do that. I haven’t really spoken to them since. that we have all been part of the team, but I know everyone is thrilled to be a part of this team.
“You can’t be on the squad and not be excited to represent the USA team because I think you are asking any player who has ever represented their country – from anywhere come – that’s the greatest honor, especially since we play such an individual in the sport, when you’re able to be part of a team, uh, that means a lot more to us. ”
For Morikawa, coming to play in Japan will be a special honor given his Japanese heritage.
Although his Japanese parents have moved to the United States, being half-Japanese and having a Japanese last name “definitely resonates with a lot of people” in the country, the two-time major winner said.
“It’s cool to see people identify with and see me: yes I’m American, but yes I’m Asian American. And just seeing opportunities and hoping that people like me might have that opportunity. to go out there and make an Olympic team. “
He remembers making the trip to Japan with his family for the first time in 2017, while in college, falling in love with the people and culture in the process.
However, being an avowed foodie, it was the cuisine that really appealed to Morikawa and it is one of the main things he looks forward to in Tokyo.
“I could eat sushi all day,” he exclaimed. “When we played the ZOZO Championship (in October 2020), I remember we were in this little town around the airport, and I think every player went to that one sushi place and hands down, it This is probably one of my favorite places I have ever been to.
“Definitely, something that I look forward to,” he added.
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