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How Collin Morikawa made Cal history

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Morikawa is fresh off his first Major Championship, and fresh off inking his name in the Cal history books

PGA Championship - Final Round Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Fresh off his first ever PGA Tour Major victory, former California Golden Bear men’s golfer Collin Morikawa has made Cal history. He didn’t also just make Cal history, he became just the fourth golfer to win the PGA Championship at the age of 23.

He joined an incredible cast of golfers to do such a thing — oh just to name them how’s Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy sound.

While other former Bears have won PGA Tour events, Morikawa became the first former Cal golfer to win a major championship.

He also has made the cut in each of his first 23 tournaments, the second-longest streak to begin a pro career in history. In doing so, Morikawa has rocketed up the WGA rankings to No. 5 already, in just 15 months of being a professional golfer.

“Someone asked me if I think I am in the same conversation as Aaron Rodgers or Marshawn Lynch or these other guys, and I said absolutely not,” Morikawa said last week during a Zoom interview. “I am not there. I’m 23. These guys have already imprinted their legacy on Cal and their sports. I’m just getting started.”

While the humility is nice, the fact that he knows he’s just getting started and is hungry for more just means we’ll continue to see his fierce competitiveness and terrific golf for many years to come. And as great as that may be, none seem surprised that we’ve seen this level of play from Morikawa, this early.

“We’ve had guys win seven tournaments in the past five years or so, which is awesome stuff. But winning a major championship is what golf is all about,” said former Cal head coach Steve Desimone, who coached Morikawa as a freshman before retiring in 2016 after 37 years in charge. “You can be a good player and win, but major championships are the tournaments that almost always only the great players win. Of all the kids I’ve coached, he’s up there in the top 2, 3 or 4, and you could make a case for No. 1. We’ve had so many great players, but he’s won three times already, including a major at 23.”

And as far as where that major should rank on his mantle of accomplishments? His other former coach, head coach Walter Chun, said it should be up there with the greatest prize in NCAA team and individual sports.

“I would say it’s up there with winning a national championship.”

His place in history already set, Morikawa is set to be more than a one-hit wonder in the golf rankings. He’s just getting started.

And the best part for Cal Athletics? He’s a Cal man, through and through.

“Cal is going to be part of me,” Morikawa said. “To make history with anything that is related to Cal, I think it will always be remembered. I hope it opens up numerous opportunities for Cal golf because Cal golf means so much. Having the opportunity to go to Cal, not just for golf but to study and get my degree, means a lot.”

Congratulations again, Collin! Way to represent the Bears, Berkeley!