Golf: Quick-study PGA champ Morikawa likes Masters debut chances

World No. 3 Colin Morikawa feels he accomplished a lot in his first day of practice under the Georgia pines. PHOTO: AFP

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA (AFP) - PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa fancies himself a quick study when it comes to solving golf courses, and he is not treating his debut at formidable Augusta National any differently.

The 23-year-old American captured his first major title in August at Harding Park in his PGA debut and likes his odds of walking away from the 84th Masters with a green jacket as the first debut winner since 1979.

"I'm not afraid of any course out here and I think that's kind of the mind set," Morikawa said Monday (Nov 9). "I can go out and dissect a course and figure out what's my best opportunity to shoot a good score.

"I do a really good job Monday through Wednesday, so I showed up today, got my 18 holes in, and I'm trying to figure out what I need to work on and get prepped for."

Not since Fuzzy Zoeller did it 41 years ago has a player won his first Masters start. Knowledge has often meant power at Augusta National, with experience paying off in knowing where to hit the ball and how putts will break.

"Even though I haven't played the Masters before. I'm comfortable coming out here," Morikawa said.

"Experience never hurts. I wish I had played here 15, 20 times. Wish I had that knowledge, but I don't. For now I have to feel like I can still compete with these guys. It's not like I'm behind the 8-ball already, have a disadvantage. On Thursday, we all start at even par."

World No. 5 Morikawa likes the way he is playing and feels he accomplished a lot in his first day of practice under the Georgia pines.

"It's a place you've kind of watched growing up, and to finally play 18 holes here as an actual golfer in the Masters is something special," he said. "But I'm here to play golf and I've got to figure out how I'm going to play my best."

He filled in a lot of slopes and lines in his yardage book Monday.

"So what lines do we need to figure out? I think we have that down in one day. we figured that out today," Morikawa said. "It's just getting comfortable with what approach shots, what shots you might have to hit into the greens, what quadrants you might have to hit.

"The greens are tricky. There's a lot of slope to them. Just figuring them out, getting comfortable on these greens, is going to be a huge part for me feeling ready by Thursday." If predicted rain and storms saturate the course all week, he'll have more work to do.

"With wind, with rain, with where the tees might be, it's just about adjusting and figure out what the line might be," he said. "That's golf. You just have to adjust.

"You want to show up to these majors not really working on anything, just being ready to play golf. I've put myself there. The game feels great."

He will not be awed playing against such rivals as defending champion Tiger Woods and three-time Masters winner Phil Mickelson.

"To get to play lots of rounds with all these guys I've watched growing up, it allows me to go out there and play like I normally would," he said. "I've seen them every single week. It just makes it easier for me to come out here like it's any other event."

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