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Collin Morikawa says coaching change ‘not easy’

2 Min Read


Collin Morikawa says coaching change ‘not easy’

Started with Mark Blackburn in September after nearly two decades with Rick Sessinghaus

    Written by Cameron Morfit @CMorfitPGATOUR

    There was something different about Collin Morikawa when he won the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP in Japan last month, although no one knew it at the time.

    After nearly two decades he had split with his childhood coach, Rick Sessinghaus, and begun working with Mark Blackburn, who coaches Max Homa and Justin Rose.

    Morikawa made the change before the Ryder Cup in September.

    Collin Morikawa discusses recent coaching change before Ryder Cup

    “He's more than just a coach,” he said Tuesday at the Hero World Challenge, of Sessinghaus. “He's one of my really good friends. He's someone I've always looked up to, someone that's been there for every step of my life essentially, not just in golf but just kind of living life, right?”

    After winning two majors in his first two full seasons on the PGA TOUR, Morikawa had not won in over two years (2021 Open Championship). That stretch included a tough loss at The Sentry at Kapalua, where he took a six-shot lead into the final round but shot 72 and finished second to Jon Rahm (63). It tied the biggest blown 54-hole lead on TOUR.

    The coaching change, though, seemed to bear fruit quickly. Barely a month into his new relationship with Blackburn, an Englishman who lives in Birmingham, Alabama, Morikawa won the ZOZO in Japan. The victory, his sixth, was especially resonant given his Japanese heritage.

    “I had to do it,” Morikawa said of the change. “I just felt like it was time to make a change at some point. What I saw kind of over the past two years wasn't to my expectations and standards and goals what I wanted, so I brought on Mark Blackburn. … I brought on Mark right before ZOZO, got a little work in. Obviously, there's no better way to start, but this is just the tip of the iceberg for us to kind of dig in and really know what we're going to do.”

    Collin Morikawa wins ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP

    One piece of knowledge he’s looking forward to understanding better is how to stay healthy. After going injury-free for his career, Morikawa, 26, was briefly sidelined by a back injury last season, a condition that flared up recently, knocking him out of The Netflix Cup.

    “For me it's going to back to like hurting my back, right?” he said. “Understanding the foundation of what – why things work. I always like to know the why, I always ask a lot of questions, so if I can understand the actual fundamentals, I can go like how I've been going two weeks of no golf, show up hopefully this week and hopefully have a chance to win.”

    Cameron Morfit is a Staff Writer for the PGA TOUR. He has covered rodeo, arm-wrestling, and snowmobile hill climb in addition to a lot of golf. Follow Cameron Morfit on Twitter.

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