What's in the bag of two-time Major champion, Race to Dubai winner and Ryder Cup star Collin Morikawa?
Collin Morikawa made more history with his victory at the DP World Tour Championship, becoming the first American to win the european Tour's Race to Dubai.
It continued the 24-year-old's incredible start to his professional career and rounded off an amazing year which has also seen Morikawa win his first WGC at the Workday Championship at The Concession, play in the Olympics, win his second Major at The Open at Royal St George's and take 3.5 points from four matches on his Ryder Cup debut.
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In winning The Open at Royal St George's, Collin Morikawa became the first player to ever win two Major Championships on his debut in the events. The 24-year-old American was in stunning form at Royal St George's as he posted a bogey-free 66 (-4) in the final round to win the Claret Jug by two shots from Jordan Spieth on 15-under par.
Morikawa, who won the 2020 US PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park, is just the second player to have won The Open and PGA before the age of 25, joining Tiger Woods. He already has five PGA Tour titles to his name.
He's also the player to take the fewest Major starts to win twice since Bobby Jones, having played just eight Grand Slam events in his career to date, and the first debutant to win The Open since 2003 when Ben Curtis also won at Royal St George's.
Morikawa has made headlines galore since turning pro, beginning his career by making 22 consecutive cuts, second only to the 25-event streak Tiger Woods achieved at the start of his career.
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The American used a combination of TaylorMade golf clubs and the new TP5 golf ball along with Titleist Vokey Design wedges in his victory in Dubai.
Earlier this year he made significant changes to his bag to cope with the challenge of links golf after his first experience at the Scottish Open.
Working with TaylorMade's Adrian Rietveld, Morikawa's was looking to improve his centre strike on his mid and short irons on the firmer and tighter links turf.
"As the question came through to me from Collin, I just told him I needed to think about it," Rietveld said. "He’s just that type of guy that nothing is going to change unless there’s an out-and-out reason to change, and he just felt as if he was mis-hitting his irons. But he couldn’t understand why.
"It was interesting, as he was warming up, the sound off the P730 was not Collin-like. It’s unique to say this, but it was just fractionally different to what I’m used to hearing. Then he goes into the P7MC and you can hear the strike come back."
Prior to The Open, Morikawa had a P series combo set consisting of P770 4 iron, P7MC 5-6 and then P730 7-PW. After some discussion and watching the American go through his warm up routine, Rietveld noticed the issue could be in the transition from his 6 iron (P7MC) to his 7 iron (P730) due to the different sole geometry of the two models.
"I changed my irons, my 9 through 7 iron that I normally have blades in," Morikawa said. "I changed to the P7MCs strictly because I couldn't find the centre of the face. I was hitting these iron shots last week at the Scottish Open that I just normally don't and my swing felt good, but it was a huge learning opportunity."
Another significant change that Morikawa made on the eve of the Open Championship was adding weight to his TP Juno putter. Playing on the PGA Tour's faster greens all year, the 24-year-old struggled to get the ball to the hole on the slower links greens at The Renaissance.
Again, working with Rietveld, the Major champion switched the weights in his putter from 2.5g heel and 2.5g toe to the heavier 7.5 gram heel and toe weights, adding a combined 10g in total.
Here we go in-depth on Morikawa's golf bag, including reviews and tests of his equipment.
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TaylorMade Senior Tour Manager Adrian Rietveld on setting up Morikawa's equipment for the 2021 Open Championship
Rietveld on Morikawa's TaylorMade iron set-up
“I need your help , I’m just not striking my irons as flush as usual.”
Collin called me after his final round at the Scottish Open, and said he was not striking his mid and short irons as well as he usually would. He felt his strike was fractionally off and it was exaggerated when trying to shape shots. He asked: “Can you do anything about it?” I needed time to think, but said I’d meet him at The Open the following day.
How are you hitting your 6-iron?
Overnight, I’d thought about what Collin had described, and started to think about the sole geometry differences between his P730 (muscleback) 7, 8, 9-irons and PW, compared to his usual P7MC 5 and 6-iron.
When we met on the TaylorMade truck at The Open he said he wasn’t sure if it was in his head, but he felt he was hitting the 6-iron better than the short irons. The P7MC irons have a fraction less leading edge relief and a little less bounce.
So, if the P730 blades were bouncing a little in the turf (this was Morikawa’s first time at The Open), or not quite getting into the turf enough for the strike to be high enough on the face, then the strike would not feel good.
We had to build new P7MC 7, 8, 9-irons plus a pitching wedge.
When Collin arrived on Monday we had the clubs ready and headed to the range with a TrackMan. He hit P7MC 7-iron versus P730 7-iron and worked his way down through the 8s, 9s and pitching wedges. We could see the MCs were launching fractionally higher (which is what a cavity iron does), but the strike was noticeably different in terms of sound. We looked at the numbers and when he started to hit more shaped shots, he noticed how he was getting a little more control and consistency.
When hitting his draw shot to a left pin, he’d drop 600rpm of spin with the P730, but the number was half that with the MCs. When spin rates are closer and more consistent you get better distance control, which is Collin’s DNA.
If it’s not better, and it’s not going to make an improvement, even if it matches the rest of his iron set, he’s not switching.
The pitching wedges were exactly the same; his usual P730 PW was working fine and he could do everything he wanted to with it. To check ourselves, we closed our eyes and listened to the strike – you could hear a difference – and then we covered our ears and watched the ball flight. The window was a little lower with the P730 blades than he was used to on lush US golf courses, so the switch made sense.
Morikawa was so in tune with what’s happening in the turf, he’d benefit from playing less bounce that week.
Collin found exactly the same thing with his Hi-Toe wedge. Even though the strike was good, shots launched higher than he expected. I built him a new lob wedge with 7° of bounce (three less than his usual wedge). Within 10 shots he was like, “This is spot on, I’m going to play this set-up this week”. He spent 90 minutes on the short game area getting to know the clubs, and by Monday afternoon he was ready to play.
It was the first time his clubs had been on the European TaylorMade Tour Truck.
When he arrived at the Scottish Open, I asked him to drop them off – it was the perfect opportunity to get his equipment on to our machinery (thanks to tolerances, it can differ slightly compared to our PGA Tour truck) and get a complete record of his specs.
We spent 90 minutes getting every spec possible. And thank God we did, as we had no idea we’d be building him some new Open-winning irons just a few days later.
It’s extremely rare for top players to change equipment at a Major.
If someone is struggling, changing their equipment could be a lifeline to finding their game. But Collin did it for the right reasons – he did it to put himself in a position to win the tournament, and bear in mind he’s already the best iron player in the world. Nine times out of 10 we’d be trying to talk a guy out of doing this, but this is what we live for. It’s created a huge buzz throughout the company.
Morikawa doesn’t play a 3-iron.
The hollow body P770 4-iron gives a little more ball speed and slightly higher launch, so we make it a fraction stronger for him to fill the gap between his 5-iron and most lofted fairway. He looks at launch characteristics and landing angles, and he likes how he gets a slightly longer shot with a little more carry distance, but doesn’t need a 3-iron.
Rietveld on Morikawa's TaylorMade fairway woods
Three-woods are not to be messed with, and finding the right one is a big deal for a player.
But his head cracked in Scotland, just through wear and tear over time. I found three or four matching SIM heads and sorted them to find an identical loft (we’re talking within 0.25°), lie angle and headweight. The switch thankfully turned out to be pretty straightforward in the end.
It’s all about the spin characteristics.
Collin plays the SIM 3-wood (13.75° loft) and SIM2 5-wood, both with titanium heads. The low spin but high launch characteristics of their titanium heads are perfect for him. If he played the same lofts in the steel SIM2 Max fairways, shots would launch lower and not carry as far. He hits a lot of 3-woods off the tee and the SIM Titanium 3-wood also has a face that’s a fraction deeper.
Royal St George’s wasn’t a course where everyone needed a 2-iron.
Collin typically uses a 3 and 5-wood on tour most weeks. At The Open he turned up with a SIM DHY 2-iron, which we’d fitted for him last year. Usually with links golf there are two winds – one going out and another coming in. But Royal St George’s has holes going in many different directions, so you really had to pick specific holes which were suited to either a 2-iron or an extra fairway wood.
There were definitely more 2-irons in play over the weekend, but Collin stuck with a 3 or 5- wood all week.
Rietveld on Morikawa's TaylorMade driver
Most TaylorMade players have now switched to the SIM2 drivers because they’re more forgiving.
But for Collin, even though he saw a gain in ball speed with the new model (over his SIM), and launch and spin were very similar, he saw less of his pronounced fade, which he really wanted to keep.
It took us until The Masters to find a solution, which involved trimming the shaft to make it stiffer, but it was already a little late in the season to switch between the two drivers.
But we’re ready if Collin wants to freshen up his driver.
There’s no reason for him to look at switching driver currently; he’s driving the ball well and his stats are great. Of course, if and when he wants to change, it will be led by Collin. Thanks to what we can do on tour in terms of weight distribution, he would be looking at playing the SIM2 Max.
More often than not the stronger the shaft, the easier it is to hit the ball from left to right.
A few weeks before his US PGA win (in 2020), Collin moved from a 70g to 60g driver shaft, but he’s played the same Diamana model for a long time. It’s a very strong profile, which helps him move the ball from left to right, and that’s exactly what he’s looking for.
He has the same Diamana shaft in his 3 and 5-wood, too, which some players find reassuring. If he found another shaft he liked he’d switch, as the Diamana isn’t a current model.
Rietveld on Morikawa's TaylorMade putter
“Do you have any of my custom putters with you?”
That was the text Collin sent me after Scotland. He was asking if any had a harder face as he was struggling with the slow greens here. He was thinking he might just need to adjust to hitting putts harder, but I suggested putting heavier weights in his current head.
Collin isn’t the most technical guy, but he’s brilliant at letting you know what’s happening in real time, so when your answer links up with what he is feeling or seeing, he’s like, “Brilliant, let’s get it done”.
Lots of very good ball strikers find it tough to get good putting stats as they have so many opportunities, but can’t hole them all.
Collin has done a lot of work on his putting, turning it into a real strength. He’s moved to a claw grip, so you can’t manipulate the putter in the way you can with a traditional grip. To ensure all his putters sit in exactly the same way at address, we CNC mill the sole and correct loft on to the face. His putters are very specific to him, and we’ve learned a lot about putters from working with Collin.
All of a sudden, the speed and distance of putts matched what he expected.
At The Open we changed the two 2.5g sole weights to 5g weights before switching them again for two 7.5gs. With 10g of additional weight in the head, Collin got the results he’d usually expect from his 10, 15 and 20-foot strokes. I’m so glad I took the time to go and get a couple of his extra putters from our lab at TaylorMade HQ in Carlsbad before making the trip to the UK – things like that really help boost trust.
It’s all in the preparation.
A tour rep’s job is all about what goes on behind the scenes – most people have no idea of the work that goes into just getting an elite athlete to the start line of an event.
Me taking those extra putters to the UK wasn’t about trying to switch him into a different model –it’s about having his back, just in case he wants to look at something different that week. When we were working at the Open, my boss (Keith Sbarbaro) was two players away, working with DJ. For him to walk over, take a look at what I was doing with Morikawa and give us the nod goes a very long way.
Rietveld on Morikawa's TaylorMade wedges
Collin likes options from his wedges.
He chooses between them depending on what the bunkers and rough are like. At the Open he travelled with four 60° wedges, including TaylorMade MG2 and Hi-Toe heads.
The Hi-Toe story for Collin started at Harding Park, where he won the PGA.
Thanks to how the rough had been grown, it was really easy to hit shots high up the face. With a normal wedge that means less energy transfer, so you don’t get the spin and friction you’re expecting.
With Hi-Toe, Collin found even slight mishits hit higher up the face had the energy and friction to execute the shot. We’re working with him now on the new MG3 and we’re trying to blend what the Hi-Toe offers with the sole geometry that he likes from the MG2.
Rietveld on Morikawa's TaylorMade TP5 ball
The TP5x is too explosive.
When Collin first turned professional, the TP5 was the most comparable TaylorMade ball to what he had been playing. He liked the better long iron performance and how our ball gave marginally better driver launch.
Golfers use the TP5x as it is explosive, but Collin is much more of a precise shot-maker, and he’s currently the world’s best iron player. The TP5 gives the extra control he’s after with his irons.
For a player of his standard it’s all marginal gains.
Switching from the 2019 TP5 to the 2021 model, we saw a faster driver ball speed, fractionally improved aerodynamics in still and windy conditions, and a tighter dispersion.
We’ve had him hit the TP5x and it’s between 1 and 1.5mph faster, but for him longer isn’t always better.