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Return to longtime coach spurs Collin Morikawa’s run

4 Min Read



    Written by Sean Martin @PGATOURSMartin

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Collin Morikawa has been playing with an uncluttered mind since reuniting with former swing coach Rick Sessinghaus, and he hopes that it will help him regain his major-winning form.

    After going more than two years without a PGA TOUR win, Morikawa decided to switch coaches last fall. He split with Sessinghaus, with whom he had worked since he was 8 years old, and went to work with Mark Blackburn, whose students include Morikawa’s fellow Cal alum, Max Homa. Morikawa won the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP after switching to Blackburn, but he decided before last month’s Valero Texas Open to reunite with Sessinghaus.

    The move was first reported on X (formerly Twitter) by Barstool Sports' Dan Rapaport.

    “It was great with Mark, and Mark provided a lot of insight and just a lot of knowledge," Morikawa said Thursday. "But what I've learned about my game is by Thursday I just kind of have to get that all out of my head and sometimes that's hard when you have a certain swing thought. And that's what Rick knows how to do really, really well for me is just to be ready on Thursday on that first tee to just go and play golf.

    "It's been good. … I know the golf is still in there, it's just being able to get away those layers that I've built up over the past couple years of kind of scar tissue of seeing the bad shots and then just trusting the game again.”

    Morikawa’s good play continued Thursday. He shot a first-round 67 in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship and shares second place, three shots behind leader Xander Schauffele. Before arriving at Quail Hollow, Morikawa finished third at the Masters, his best major finish since he won the 2021 Open Championship, and ninth at the RBC Heritage.

    Collin Morikawa converts birdie at Wells Fargo

    Morikawa hit 13 greens Thursday and missed just two fairways. This is just his second appearance in the Wells Fargo Championship; he missed the cut last year after shooting consecutive 73s.

    Last fall, Morikawa described Sessinghaus as not only a coach but a close friend. They had worked together for more than 18 years before splitting in advance of the Ryder Cup. Morikawa ranked No. 22 on last year’s FedExCup standings before opening the TOUR Championship in 61-64, en route to a sixth-place FedExCup finish. It was a solid season but not the elite level he quickly demonstrated after turning pro in 2019, winning two majors (2020 PGA Championship, 2021 Open Championship) in his first start at each. He won five TOUR titles between July 2019 and July 2021, but he then went winless through the 2023 TOUR Championship.

    Collin Morikawa's quality 8-iron leads to birdie at Wells Fargo

    Morikawa and Sessinghaus had thrived, indisputably. But it was time for a new set of eyes.

    “He’s more than just a coach, he’s one of my really good friends,” Morikawa said at last fall’s Hero World Challenge. “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?

    “It wasn't easy, and sometimes things happen like that. But 18 years is a long time. Not many relationships that I can say with a lot of people that I've had relationships for 18 years, and real relationships where I'm talking to them every week, right? So that wasn't easy at all. I had to do it, 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.”

    At the time, Morikawa stood 14th on the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s now 13th and trending upward, invigorated by a weekend in contention at Augusta National. The prodigious talent, who reached world No. 2 within three years of turning pro, believes the best is yet to come. A return to the roots could get him there.

    “Sometimes you need a search, and that's what I thought I had to do,” Morikawa said Thursday. “I went down that path and it was fine for a little bit. Just having a sense of that old, it is really, really nice to have him back.”

    Sean Martin is a senior editor for the PGA TOUR. He is a 2004 graduate of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. Attending a small school gave him a heart for the underdog, which is why he enjoys telling stories of golf's lesser-known players. Follow Sean Martin on Twitter.

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